‘A strong primary health care system requires a strong rehabilitation workforce’

WCPT, together with the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) and the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM), has undertaken some collaborative advocacy to ensure rehabilitation is a key component of any health care strategy that has a goal of maintaining functional capacity and independence.

This advocacy was during the second Global Conference on Primary Health Care, in Astana, Kazakhstan, in October. The conference was held to reaffirm the principles of the Declaration of Alma-Ata which was signed 40 years ago.

In a session focussed on Care for the elderly, Jonathon Kruger, WCPT’s Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘Rehabilitation interventions can prevent and counteract many of the negative consequences of age-related chronic diseases as well as prevent hospitalisation and re-admissions.

‘But to implement these interventions you need skilled rehabilitation professionals to undertake this work. A strong public healthcare system, addressing the needs of an ageing population, requires a strong rehabilitation workforce.

‘However, all the modelling data available shows there is a critical shortage of these workers. We need greater investment globally to develop this workforce.

‘We need more occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language therapists, prosthetists, orthotists, rehab medicine physicians and, last but not least, community health workers.

‘Evidence shows that an investment in this workforce will give a massive return on that investment and allow older people to participate and contribute as productive members of society. Therefore it is time to act because we know that ‘rehab matters’.’

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