New CBR guidelines launched

New world guidelines on community based rehabilitation are to be launched later this month (27th October) at the CBR African Network Conference in Abuja, Nigeria. They are supported by the World Health Organization, and have been developed with physical therapy input.

The new community based rehabilitation (CBR) guidelines are published by WHO, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) ILO (International Labour Organization) and IDDC (International Disability and Development Consortium). Prompted by requests from CBR programmes for a guide for managers, WHO led the guideline development over five years, collaborating with programme representatives, non-governmental organisations, UN agencies and individuals.

The content went through a series of drafts based on reviews by CBR programmes, sponsoring agencies and organisations and technical experts. Ann Goerdt, a physical therapist and former staff member at WHO, was called in to help prepare the health component, and was closely involved in preparing revised drafts after each review.

The guidelines contain:

  • a section on management;
  • components on health, education, livelihood, social and empowerment;
  • supplementary booklets on CBR and mental health, HIV/AIDS, leprosy and humanitarian crises.

“The five components present CBR managers with information about the activities of sectors which are particularly relevant for people with disabilities,” says Ann Goerdt, who is Clinical Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy at New York University. “Examples are provided to suggest ways in which CBR programmes can work with the various sectors to promote access and participation of people with disabilities. The health component, for example, contains sections on health promotion, prevention, medical care, rehabilitation and assistive devices. The emphasis is on access to information and services, as well as on promotion of active roles for people with disabilities in advising the health sector about their needs.”

WHO will host a planning meeting on the implementation of the CBR guidelines on 25th-26th October in Abuja. The discussions will address dissemination, training of trainers, pilot programmes and the roles of stakeholders and networks to promote the implementation of the guidelines.