Catherine Sykes (right) and WCPT Secretary General Brenda Myers pictured at the World Health Assembly

WCPT makes statement on disability and PT at World Health Assembly

A global shortage of physical therapists and other rehabilitation professions is affecting access to health services to people with disabilities, said WCPT in a statement to the World Health Assembly on 22nd May. 

Supporting a resolution endorsing the recommendations of the World Report on Disability and calling on the World Health Organization and its member states to ensure equal access to health services for persons with disabilities, WCPT said that national programmes promoting physical activity had to meet the needs of all people, including those with disabilities. 

The statement, presented by Catherine Sykes, WCPT’s Professional Policy Consultant, said that physical therapists and other health professionals should be engaged in the development of national disability strategies. 

She said that WCPT supported the resolution’s recommendation to invest in education so that rehabilitation services could be developed, and pointed to the range of resources WCPT has available to support the development of physical therapy education. 

She said: “According to data collected in 2012, the ratio of physical therapists to population varies across the world from a low of 1:530,375 to a median of 1:1344 for high income countries. Such a wide variation is indicative of severe shortages. Such shortages extend to other rehabilitation professions as well.”

“WCPT supports member states’ actions to expand the education of rehabilitation professionals to address the shortage.”

Catherine Sykes pointed out that WCPT had collaborated on the development of WHO guidelines and reports on disability. Such reports demanded authoritative data to drive policy and planning for people with disabilities. 

“WCPT supports all efforts to improve the development, collection and use of data on human functioning and advocates for the use of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) in this regard,” she said.  

The WHA resolution was passed, and an action plan is being developed in time for the next WHA in 2014. 

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