Representatives gather at the meeting in Geneva

Physical therapists centre-stage in WHO's public health approach to ageing

WCPT was represented at a World Health Organization meeting considering a draft of the World Report on Ageing and Health, due to be published in October. 

The report is a response to rapidly ageing populations around the world, and will document current knowledge to help guide individual states. According to WHO, it will provide a public health framework for action on ageing and health, identifying gaps and suggesting future priorities. The report will be tailored to low, middle, and high-income settings.
 
The review meeting for the draft report, held on 18th March in Geneva, Switzerland, included reports from working groups and discussions on chapters. There were participants from 30 non-governmental organisations and bodies representing professions and institutions, including WCPT.
 
Attending on WCPT’s behalf was Stephen Lungaro-Mifsud, a senior lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of Malta who has a special interest in gerontology and geriatrics.
 
“WCPT had the opportunity to make positive contributions at a par with other global, regional and other specialist organisations,” he said after the meeting. “The event increased the visibility of WCPT as a pertinent stakeholder in policy development.”
 
“The key message is that the public health approach adopted by the report puts physical therapists on centre stage – to influence wellbeing, to enable people in later life to do what is of value to them.”
 
“Older person-centred approaches to care, self-care and empowerment were discussed. It is always important to have physical therapy input in these global but grass root review meetings. It enables us to inform on matters where physical therapy can contribute. This happens formally during discussions and workshops and informally during the coffee breaks!”
 
“One particular instance was when attention was drawn to mounting evidence that physical therapy not only lessens the effect of comorbidities in older persons but increases their capacity to do more with their lives."

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