More than 30 physical therapists attended WCPT Congress 2019 in Geneva, thanks to the generosity of congress delegates and WCPT’s partners.
Joanne Kibet, physiotherapist trainer at the Center for Victims of Torture in Kenya, said: ‘Without the bursary I wouldn’t have been able to attend congress. I’m grateful to WCPT for giving me this life-changing experience.
‘At congress I was able to share my experience of working with refugees and asylum seekers in the discussion session on migrant health. It was great to hear other physiotherapists in humanitarian organisations share their challenges and successes working with people in vulnerable populations.
‘One of the highlights for me was the discussion session on why sleep matters. Many of the people I work with have sleep problems as a result of torture and trauma. I learned some simple sleep health promotion strategies and have started making sure survivors of torture who come to our clinic receive sleep hygiene education.
‘I’m a member of the scientific committee for the WCPT Africa Region Congress in 2020. Attending WCPT Congress 2019 in Geneva has informed my ideas about the sessions we would like to have at the congress in Africa in 2020 to make it as inclusive as possible, and it has made me want to participate more in the next congress in Dubai.’
Watch interviews with some of the people who received bursaries to attend WCPT Congress 2019 in Geneva
Ariunaa Khadbaatar, President of the Mongolian Physical Therapy Association, said: ‘Our association became a member of WCPT at the General Meeting in 2015, and WCPT has played a big role in the development of physical therapy in Mongolia. The bursary programme gives people a big opportunity to exchange experiences, share new information, and communicate with colleagues from all over the world.
‘Singapore in 2015 was my first experience of a WCPT congress. I learned about physical therapy inputs in women's health, which inspired me. After attending the congress, we have been working on women's health physical therapy in Mongolia and, in June 2018, our association organised a conference on the subject.
‘Mongolian physical therapists are now working to develop guidelines for physical therapy during pregnancy and postpartum physical therapy. And women's health physical therapy is now included in the curriculum for the physical therapy Bachelor’s degree programme at Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences. We are very proud of these achievements.
‘In Geneva I developed my network of colleagues, obtained new knowledge, and gained lots of new ideas for my future practice and research, which will benefit all physical therapists in Mongolia.’
Maribeth Gelisanga, chief physical therapist at Philippine General Hospital, said: ‘I come from a low income country and I am grateful for this transformational experience, with memories and connections I will bring with me forever.
‘I work in a tertiary hospital in a developing country and when I saw the programme I knew there would be plenty of interesting and inspiring sessions.
‘It was surreal to meet some of the people whose books I’ve studied and have helped build the foundations of my professional practice. Some of these people have done so much to advance the profession, influence physical therapists, and change people’s lives and are still generously sharing their work and expertise with passion and enthusiasm.
‘My experience at congress has encouraged me to take an active role in leading my profession back home, learning from the experiences of these leaders and forging a mentoring network. Being with thousands of physical therapists at congress has given me confidence we are continuing to develop better healthcare and can make things happen together.’
Nesto Tarimo, a physical therapy doctoral student from Malawi, said: ‘I was so delighted to be selected as one of the WCPT bursary recipients. I was over the moon when I got the news. Without this bursary assistance, I would not have been able to attend congress due to financial constraints. I commend WCPT for this innovative idea of establishing a bursary programme in support of physical therapists from countries like Malawi. I particularly thank the bursary donors, for without them, my attendance at congress would not have been possible.
‘Due to the profound educative nature of WCPT conferences, I have developed my evidence-based knowledge in research and clinical practice. This will enable me to practice based on the contemporary evidence, to improve clinical outcomes and promote patients’ quality of life in the community I serve. I will be the ‘agent of change’ to my profession through this noble opportunity.’
Tracy Bury, WCPT Deputy Chief Executive, said: ‘We had more than 100 applications to the bursary programme, and we were able to award bursaries to 33 physical therapists from 17 countries. For some of the bursary recipients, attending congress was the first time they were able to leave their country so it’s important we did everything we could to make them feel welcome at congress and make the most of the wonderful learning and networking opportunities available to them.
‘Physical therapists in many low and lower middle-income countries have very limited access to high quality continuing professional development, research, or global networking opportunities. The bursary programme can help address this and help a physical therapist make a lasting impact in their own country.
‘We’re grateful for the generous support of delegates and our partners.’
The bursary covers congress registration fees, accommodation, and travel and has been supported through:
- the Incredible Impacts grant from BestCities and ICCA that WCPT won for its WCPT Congress 2017
- donations made by congress delegates
- abstract submission fees
- donations from physioswiss and the HUG hospital group
- accommodation facilitated by the CAGI Association in Geneva.
The bursary programme for WCPT Congress 2021 in Dubai will be launched in 2020.