Representatives of WCPT member organisations within the region gather in Panama, along with WCPT President Marilyn Moffat (front, second left), regional Chair Stacy de Gale (third from right), and the regional representative on the WCPT Executive Committee Sandra Thornhill (second from right).
Representatives of WCPT member organisations within the region gather in Panama, along with WCPT President Marilyn Moffat (front, second left), regional Chair Stacy de Gale (third from right), and the regional representative on the WCPT Executive Committee Sandra Thornhill (second from right).

North America Caribbean meeting reinforces regional unity

The 23rd General Meeting of the WCPT’s North America Caribbean Region (NACR) in Panama proved to be an opportunity to emphasise the similarities of member organisations despite differences in language and location.

“The two-day meeting proved to be a treasure trove of information,” says Stacy de Gale, Chair of the region. “It highlighted the accomplishments, challenges and concerns of each member organisation.”

The meeting, hosted by the Asociacion Panamena de Fisioterapia y Kinesiologia (APAFIK), enabled members to discuss and manage issues affecting the profession in the region. There were representatives from WCPT member organisations in Panama, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America. For the first time, representatives of the Dominican Republic were present as active observers. Also present were WCPT President Marilyn Moffat, the region’s representative on the WCPT Executive Committee Sandra Thornhill, Sean Stratmoen of the NACR Secretariat and NACR Chair Stacy de Gale.

“The setting of Panama was very appropriate,” says Stacy de Gale. “The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via the Caribbean Sea. It was owned by Colombia, France and the USA, and was worked on by people from Panama and almost every Caribbean island. The canal is not only an engineering masterpiece but an example of a true melting pot of cultures and camaraderie.  The WCPT is also a melting pot of cultures, languages and ideas all with the main goal of moving physical therapy forward.”

Topics under discussion included direct access, practice acts, recognition of physical therapists, development of physical therapy educational programmes and a regional website/page. The NACR reaffirmed its responsibility to work as closely as possible with member organisations which needed the region’s support to achieve its goals.  

The meeting also provided an opportunity for physical therapy issues to be raised at a ministerial level, with the APAFIK executive and Marilyn Moffat attending a meeting with the Panamanian Ministry of Health.  

The 30th Anniversary of APAFIK was commemorated with a dinner, which charted the history of the association and honoured past presidents. 

There were continuing education programmes by Elizabeth Noble who facilitated a two-day workshop on women’s health, Deisy Sanchez who ran a one-day workshop on shoulder and knee rehabilitation, and Marilyn Moffat who presented a one-day session on physical therapists as exercise experts for aging adults. “One of the goals of the NACR is to ensure that quality physical therapy continuing education is provided at every meeting,” says Stacy de Gale. “This year was another success.”  

“The 23rd meeting of the NACR was indeed a success, with active participation of all attendees, rekindling of friendships and forging of new relationships and plans,” she says. “A resounding thank you to APAFIK, especially to their president Kathya Del Carmen Eschevers, past president Anayansi Vizor and Emma Jorge. These physical therapists are shining examples of dedication and industry to the profession of physical therapy.”