At the regional meeting, from left: Robert Werstine (Canada), David Charles (Haiti), Mario Isme (Haiti), Andrea Cann (Bermuda), Tanaeya Burch (Bermuda), Kitiboni Adderley (Bahamas) and Doesjie de Boer-de Miranda (Suriname).

Large or small, members can support each other says NACR regional Chair

The role of WCPT’s North America Caribbean Region (NACR) in moving physical therapy forward in young and developing organisations cannot be over-emphasised, said the region’s Chair at its General Meeting in Miami in May.

Stacy de Gale reported to the meeting that over the past year the region had intensified attempts to engage and communicate with physical therapy organisations in countries where the profession has struggled with professional recognition and economic and political hardship. “Each of them has an integral part to play in the provision and maintenance of healthy communities,” she said. 

“It is necessary for more active and open consultations to occur among us all,” she said. “Many member organisations within our region have similar economic and political climates, so there are areas in which we can learn and grow from each other.”

“There is no issue too small or large that you may not find assistance, advice or resources within the NACR.”

Stacy de Gale said that because of great financial difficulties, physical therapists from Guyana and Guatemala could not be represented at the meeting.

“The areas of economic and political hardships are a grave reality in many territories, and have directly impacted on the profession,” she said. “Many issues affecting the profession are quite often a reflection of the economy of the territory. But even through this, areas can be identified where activities can be developed to ensure the life of physical therapy. For example, a new regional website aligned to the WCPT website would provide them with the opportunity to raise their profile, and World Physical Therapy Day could provide them with a focus for campaigning activity."

Attending the meeting were physical therapists from WCPT member organisations in United States, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago. 

Marc Goldstein, Senior Director of Research, Data and Information Resources at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) reported on last December’s International Workforce Summit hosted by the APTA, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and WCPT. Justin Moore, APTA’s Vice President of Public Policy and Professional Affairs gave a practical guide to advocacy in physical therapy. Rob Werstine and Jack Miller of the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) spoke of the high quality of educational standards related to manipulation. 

After the meeting, Sandra Thornhill, the region’s representative on the WCPT Executive Committee, said:  “I think the moment that stood out for me was hearing about how member organisations are increasingly promoting and advocating on behalf of their profession in their respective countries. This was backed up by the presentation on advocacy provided during the business meeting by Justin Moore of APTA.”

Marilyn Moffat, WCPT’s President, attended the two-day meeting, where it was announced that her achievements and support for the region would be recognised with a new regional award. The Marilyn Moffat Advocacy Award will be presented to physical therapists in the region who show outstanding efforts in the sphere of advocacy. Marilyn Moffat was also presented with her own award from the region in recognition of her achievements. “She has been our President, mentor, advocate and friend,” said Stacy de Gale. 

“Although the NACR is one of WCPT’s smallest regions, the discussion, focus and camaraderie that occurred over two days belied our size. With the participation of member organisations and observers, true strides were made in issues such as licensure, representation, continuing education, recruitment and retention of staff and advocacy issues.” 

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