The SUDA project, a partnership between WCPT and Humanity & Inclusion (HI), focused on strengthening physical therapy as a profession in Mali, Niger and Senegal.
HI is an international non-governmental organisation that works alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations in order to respond to their essential needs, support development of health, rehabilitation, social and economic integration programmes, to improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.
The project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and ran until January 2018. It had four main objectives:
- Strengthening three national physical therapy associations
- Using WCPT standards to support three countries in improving physical therapist entry level education in order to advance towards WCPT accreditation
- Develop a WCPT policy paper related to physical therapy assistants
- Augment wheelchair training within the physical therapy sector
The SUDA project was a response to a need to professionalise and strengthen physical therapy services for people with disabilities in these conflict-affected countries. Physical therapy is the main professional rehabilitation service available in Mali, Niger and Senegal, and demands on physical therapists are high. However, there are very few physical therapists, the quality of non-standardised entry level physical therapist professional education programmes varies, physical therapy national associations are weak, and the availability of wheelchairs is limited.
WCPT, with its select group of mentors, provided technical assistance to physical therapy national associations and education institutions in Mali, Niger, and Senegal focusing on the first three objectives of the project. Mentors directly contributed to strengthen the professional capacity of physical therapy national associations in governance, management and advocacy, and improve quality and standards of the education programmes. WCPT also reviewed the role of physical therapy assistants (PTAs) within the rehabilitation workforce globally and developed a policy on PTAs. WCPT mentors supported and guided the implementation of action plans for physical therapy associations, supported the development of professional education modules, and participated in national conferences. WCPT mentors worked with education institutions to advance along the WCPT education programme accreditation continuum.
The fourth component of the project, wheelchair training, will be done with the support of Motivation, a charity set up to design and produce wheelchairs that are affordable and appropriate to many settings in low income countries, thereby creating a fairer society that supports inclusion.