Global leaders of the main health professions, including physical therapy, have urged their members to pay more attention to regulation issues and the need to implement the right systems to act in the public interest.
Senior physical therapists, physicians, nurses, dentists and pharmacists from over 45 countries gathered in Geneva on 17th-18th May to consider how different systems of professional regulation promote public safety and health while also protecting health professionals.
At the conference, organised by the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) of which WCPT is a member, they concluded that in the face of global challenges such as changing demography and increased expectations of health services, there is a greater need than ever for regulation systems that ensure quality of service and protect the public.
Participants agreed that different systems suit different national environments, but whatever the model regulation is a responsibility and a public duty, not an option.
There was agreement between WHPA members (the International Council of Nurses, the International Pharmaceutical Federation, the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, the World Dental Federation and the World Medical Association) that health professional regulation should be person-centred, encompassing patient care, patient rights and patient safety. It should take into account social and economic welfare and professional practice, and be underpinned by accountability and responsiveness.
Marilyn Moffat, President of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy said: “It is clear that there is no single model for a good regulatory system, but all should ensure that physical therapists and other health professionals provide safe and competent care/services. Regulatory bodies also need to understand the day-to-day realities of the health professions they are seeking to regulate.”
Margaret Mungherera, President of the World Medical Association, who was also a speaker at the conference, said: "There are significant challenges and obstacles in many parts of the world, such as Africa, where there is a negative perception of governments about professional autonomy, clinical independence and self-regulation. This needs to change."