The sixty-ninth World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: WHO/L Cipriani
The sixty-ninth World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: WHO/L Cipriani

WCPT welcomes plans for healthy ageing and workforce planning at the World Health Assembly

WCPT has highlighted the importance of robust data for rehabilitation personnel, direct access to physical therapy, and active ageing at the sixty-ninth World Health Assembly in Switzerland.

Delegates agreed to adopt the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030, which aims to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage, equitable access to health workers, and high-quality data collection for workforce planning.

The strategy recognises that population growth and ageing will increase demand for well-trained health workers in the next 15 years. Despite an anticipated increase in the total number of workers worldwide, there is a projected shortfall of 18 million needed to achieve global sustainability goals.

In a statement to the assembly, WCPT emphasised that understanding the role and supply of rehabilitation personnel, including physical therapists, was crucial to relieving growing workloads related to non-communicable diseases.

“Appropriate health workforce planning is hindered because of a lack of data on the rehabilitation workforce,” said the statement. “WCPT calls on the World Health Organization and its member states to include rehabilitation personnel in planning, and supports actions to gather and employ high-quality data.”

WCPT also reminded the assembly of the importance of direct access to physical therapy and of enabling physical therapists to work within their full scope of practice, which consistently shows clinical benefits and savings.

In response to the draft Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Ageing and Health, WCPT welcomed a positive transformation in the perception of healthcare for older people. Previously an ageing population was considered “a crisis”, whereas caring for older people is now characterised by maximising mobility, health and opportunities.

WCPT also welcomed the publication of a list of 50 priority assistive devices, recognising that physical therapists are “one of the rehabilitation professions with skills to prescribe and fit mobility assistive devices, and to train the recipient in the use and maintenance of the devices.”

“People previously unable to leave their home will, with assistive technology, gain access to education, livelihoods and community engagement and become less dependent on family members for care.”

WCPT staff and delegates also participated in a Walk The Talk campaign, completing more than 19,000 steps around the event each day.

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