It’s 23 years since Eckhardt Boehle attended his first WCPT European Region meeting in Paris, and this May he attended his last. The region’s general meeting held in Copenhagen, Denmark, was an opportunity for Boehle, representing the Deutscher Verband fuer Physiotherapie, to reflect on how far the region has come.
“My final participation in the European Region made me realise how the region has developed over the years, and we all can be very proud of how strong its voice is nowadays,” he said.
Boehle was a member of the WCPT Executive Committee at the time WCPT’s regional structure was established in 1991. “I was strongly in favour,” he says. At the region’s inaugural meeting in 1991 he was elected to its executive committee. “At this early stage it was first of all important to establish a strong WCPT regional organisation for the whole of Europe.”
Boehle was a supporter of the region amalgamating with another European physical therapists’ organisation – the Standing Liaison Committee of Physiotherapists, which dealt with European Union matters – and this happened in 1998. “It was my aim to have only one voice for physical therapy in Europe, and this has been the case since 1998. We have succeeded, and today our voice is a strong one.”
This year’s General Meeting in Copenhagen covered: the region’s collaborations on guidelines and its relationship with the Guidelines International Network (G-I-N); the work of the region’s European Foundation for Physiotherapy and Physical Activity; its working groups on education, the EU and professional issues; its cooperation with the European Network of Physiotherapy in Higher Education and other European organisations; work with the EU on a possible European professional card for physiotherapists; discussions with the European Health Commissioner about demographic change in Europe; and future plans.
The meeting was attended by WCPT's President, Marilyn Moffat, and Secretary General Brenda Myers.
“The work of the European Region of WCPT has only been achieved through the contribution of many people, including the members of the working groups, to whom I am most grateful,” said Sarah Bazin, regional chair. “Our organisational model relies on the appointment of members to the working groups financially supported by member organisations, and I would like to thank those who have made this possible.”
The Association of Danish Physiotherapists had been working on hosting the meeting since the beginning of 2013. It organised a welcome reception at the Danish Disability Organisation’s offices – the world’s most accessible office building – where delegates heard about how physiotherapists and disability organisations collaborate in Denmark.
For Tina Lambrecht, President of the Association of Danish Physiotherapists, it was her first European regional meeting. “I was overwhelmed by the feeling of being part of something bigger – the PT family, as Sarah Bazin puts it,” she said. “It’s a family that shares knowledge, values, ideas and pride in being physiotherapists.”
“Apart from the formal meeting, there was a lot of networking going on – and that was just as valuable as the papers being discussed.”