Physical therapy researchers from Zambia and Canada, along with partners from Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have launched a free website to help health workers improve the quality of life of adults and children living with HIV in Africa.
The HIV resource is designed to be a one-stop resource for physical therapists, occupational therapists and other health workers, helping them research the most common HIV-related disabilities and find evidence based rehabilitation solutions
Esther Munalula Nkandu, WCPT’s Executive Board member from Africa and one of those involved in compiling the resource, says that millions of people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa are struggling to manage the many disabilities associated with the disease and its treatments.
“Better responses are needed to support people in Sub-Saharan Africa as they live their lives with HIV,” said Dr Nkandu, a senior lecturer at the University of Zambia. “The rehabilitation sector needs to be integrated into the HIV health response. People with HIV are thinking about their future, being productive and raising their families. Rehabilitation can help them achieve their goals,” she said.
Over 24 million people with HIV in Africa have access to treatment. But there are few rehabilitation resources to help people live well. The international team of physical therapists wants to strengthen HIV rehabilitation across the region.
“We need to work together to incorporate rehabilitation into HIV care, policy and research throughout Africa,” says Margaret Mweshi, lecturer at the University of Zambia, School of Medicine.
The new website, titled, “How rehabilitation can help people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa: an evidence-informed tool for rehab providers” was adapted from a Canadian resource.
Collaborators involved in the adaptation include the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation, the Disability Service Programme in Kenya, the International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation at the University of Toronto, Canada, and the University of Zambia. The adaptation involved input from a range of individuals with rehabilitation, disability and/or HIV experience from five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.