UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired a meeting coordinating a response to the Ebola outbreak in August.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired a meeting coordinating a response to the Ebola outbreak in August. UN Photo/Mark Garten

The Ebola outbreak: advice for physical therapists

WCPT is alerting physical therapists to its policy on infection prevention and control in the light of growing concern among health workers about the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

The spread of the deadly Ebola virus in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea has been described by the international president of Médecins sans Frontières as “the worst Ebola epidemic in history”. Dr Joanne Liu told member states at the United Nations in early September that health workers on the frontline are becoming infected in large numbers.

Physical therapists in Nigeria, which had reported 20 cases of Ebola by the end of September, have contacted WCPT seeking guidance on how physical therapists can protect themselves from infection while continuing to provide services to patients. 

Tracy Bury, WCPT’s Director of Professional Policy, said: “Our thoughts are with our colleagues facing challenging times in dealing with the trauma and loss that Ebola has brought to many African countries.”  She has advised physical therapists affected by these issues to consult:

“In keeping with WCPT’s policy, physical therapists should implement best practice in infection prevention and control when working in any practice setting, to protect themselves and others,” said Tracy Bury.

The Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy has issued a position statement explaining the role of physiotherapists, and calling on the government to act to protect health workers and ensure containment strategies as outlined by WHO.