The importance of physical therapy in the care of older people was recognised at a major World Health Organization meeting on its global ageing strategy in Geneva.
WCPT representatives at the consultative meeting played a significant role – providing an intervention committing to the new strategy and also leading delegates in exercise sessions during breaks in the proceedings.
The WCPT delegates were Emma Stokes, WCPT President, and Stephen Lungaro-Mifsud, Senior Lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of Malta with a special interest in gerontology and geriatrics. They were invited to lead the exercise sessions after discussing with WHO Director of Ageing and Life Course, John Beard, the need to live the message of activity and movement. You can watch a video of the exercise session below.
The meeting discussed a draft of WHO’s Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health, defining strategic objectives for WHO and its member states and a framework for public health action. WCPT had submitted a formal response to the consultation.
In WCPT’s intervention, Stephen Lungaro-Mifsud praised the recently-published WHO Report on Ageing and Health.
“Thank you for providing us with the opportunity to do what physical therapists around the world do every day, which is to promote exercise and physical activity, in the promotion of health and wellbeing,” he said.
He pointed out that WCPT’s subgroup, the International Association of Physical Therapists working with Older People (IPTOP), had developed international standards of clinical practice for physical therapists working with older people.
“The profession of physical therapy is key to and absolutely committed to the successful implementation of the plan and can provide enabling support, advice and services to member states around the world," he said.
After the meeting, he commented that the chair of the consultation meeting had recognised the importance of physical therapy in the care of older people and healthy ageing and welcomed the commitment from WCPT.
The inputs from member states and other stakeholders such as the WCPT will inform a revised Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health for consideration by the WHO Executive Board in January 2016.