A record number of delegations attended the WCPT General Meeting, with physical therapy organisations from 96 countries represented. Here are some of the main decisions from WCPT’s 16th General Meeting.
Review of Articles of Association
The next four years will see WCPT reviewing its Articles of Association, following the General Meeting’s approval of a motion from the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA). WCPT’s Articles of Association set down the conditions and regulations by which the organisation should be run. Changes to the wording of the part of the Articles dealing with the objectives of WCPT, proposed by the WCPT Executive Committee, were approved by delegates, updating some of the phraseology to reflect the development of the profession and WCPT. Delegates also agreed to proposals from the APA that the Articles should be amended so that there could be consultation and voting by member organisations on matters of significance between General Meetings. In addition, delegates agreed that there should be a broader review of WCPT’s Articles of Association “to ensure that they reflect best practice corporate governance standards and support contemporary business practices”.
Policy papers review
The General Meeting approved the results of a review of WCPT policy papers, which was carried out during 2010 and 2011. The structure and names assigned to WCPT’s policies have been changed, reflecting the increasing number and range of its outputs and the need to make them accessible to a range of stakeholders. The new categories are: Articles of Association, ethical principles, policy statements, endorsements, guidelines, and briefing papers. The existing position statements and declarations of principle have been edited to make their style consistent and their meaning clearer to all those involved with WCPT. The General Meeting approved new policy statements on: direct access and patient/client self-referral to physical therapy; the consequences of armed violence, landmines and other weapons of war; occupational health and safety for physical therapists; records management; record keeping, storage, retrieval and disposal; and regulation of the physical therapy profession. It also approved new endorsements of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The national physical therapy associations that make up WCPT have agreed to try and make an annual grant to the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro). PEDro is an initiative of the Centre for Evidence-Based Physiotherapy at The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia. Delegates at the WCPT General Meeting spoke of how valuable the database was in furthering physical therapy education, research and practice around the world. But the Australian Physiotherapy Association, proposing the motion, said its future was threatened because of lack of funding. The meeting agreed to a motion strongly recommending that all WCPT member organisations establish an annual grant to PEDro.
Rights of people with disabilities
Delegates also agreed to a motion from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) in the United Kingdom that WCPT should encourage the rights of people with disabilities to practise as physical therapists around the world. “There are added strengths to having people with disabilities in our profession,” said CSP Chair Ann Green. “They can offer a positive example to patients.”
Support for Japan
The Japanese Physical Therapy Association (JPTA) gave a formal vote of thanks to the international physical therapy community for its support after the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation leak. Speaking at the WCPT General Meeting, the association’s delegate reported that 2,500 Japanese physical therapists have been evicted from their homes. The JPTA continues to provide them with support while organising rehabilitation for survivors of the disasters.
Data collection project
Delegates at the General Meeting participated in a workshop to guide them through the requirements of WCPT’s common data set project, which is attempting to collect information about the physical therapy profession, its education, regulation and staffing practice. Earlier, delegates discussed some of the problems member organisations had responding to requests for information about the profession in their country. They agreed that it was essential that regularly updated material should be collected by member organisations and shared internationally.