Frits Hunsel dancing with WCPT President Marilyn Moffat at the North America Caribbean meeting in Paramaribo, Suriname, in April 2010.
Frits Hunsel dancing with WCPT President Marilyn Moffat at the North America Caribbean meeting in Paramaribo, Suriname, in April 2010.

Suriname physical therapist honoured for voluntary work

Physical therapist Frits Hunsel is a recipient of a Health Volunteers Overseas Golden Apple Award for his extraordinary contribution as a volunteer. 

For the past ten years, he has been Director of HVO’s physical therapy programme in Suriname. He receives the award for his commitment to HVO’s educational mission. The citation for his award calls him “a tireless promoter of physical therapy”. 

“Recognising the need for advanced training for local therapists, he conducted a site assessment and helped establish a programme which has now expanded into a Masters program at Anton de Kom University of Suriname,” says HVO.  “This will provide further clinicians and teachers – a remarkable achievement in a country with limited resources and academic personnel.”

A graduate of the Amsterdam Academy of Physiotherapy, Hunsel previously worked as a director of rehabilitation services in Ohio, USA.  He was a co-founder of the Surinaamse Vereniging voor Fysiotherapie (Surinamese Physiotherapy Association) in 1970, and was its first President, also serving as President between 1979 and 1981. When the association became a member of WCPT in 1974, he was its official delegate.

He moved to the United States in 1982. Tony Chang, Director of the Physiotherapy Programme at Anton de Kom University of Suriname, has been in contact with Frits Hunsel over many years. "One of his dreams was to start a physical therapy programme in Suriname. When we started with our programme here in 1996 I asked him if he wanted to support us and help us develop the programme. In 1999 Health Volunteers Overseas started a collaboration program with the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the university, and Frits was appointed as the Director for the HVO. He was our liaison with the HVO until 2010." 

"He has been in Suriname several times in this period as Director and also as volunteer instructor and lecturer. One of his tasks as Director was to recruit volunteers with the right expertise to match the needs of the Surinamese physical therapy programme. Since 1999, 15 volunteers have been in Suriname. Some of them more than once, and even three or four times."

Fritz Hunsel was one of the honored guests at WCPT’s North America Caribbean Region meeting in Suriname last year. 

Health Volunteers Overseas is a non-profit organisation founded in 1986 to improve global health through education.  It designs and implements education programmes in child health, primary care, trauma and rehabilitation, essential surgical care, oral health, blood disorders and cancer, infectious disease, nursing education, and wound management.