What voice does physiotherapy have in progress towards the right for all to health? This was the question that WCPT’s Vice President Margot Skinner asked in her editorial in the most recent issue of the New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy.
In the editorial Margot says the global profession must keep focused on the key factors that describe physiotherapy, and the influence that physical inactivity has on the primary factors impacting on global health, namely non communicable diseases (NCDs) and an ageing society. Physiotherapists are equipped, through their education, to meet the needs of people with or at risk of NCDs; and to provide evidence based interventions that can reduce the incidence of NCDs and associated disability and mortality; as well as playing a vital role in the prevention and management of NCDs.
In order to make this positive contribution to improving global health the profession must ensure that the world has a practice ready physiotherapy workforce and that each country has a physiotherapy workforce that is sufficient to meet the demands of the population. A practice ready workforce means we must link entry level education to practice models that meet health needs of the future and that there is a match between curriculum content and global health priorities. Schools of physiotherapy around the world need to ensure that they are making such changes in the context of the cultural and societal needs of their populations.
Other priorities that must also be addressed globally at the foundation level include a realignment of curriculum content with the current evidence for healthy ageing and increasing opportunities in many countries for more students to access physiotherapy entry level education to correct the imbalance in supply and demand. If we achieve these priorities we shall be well along the path of ensuring not only that access to physiotherapy services is a right, but that the global population can enjoy the highest attainable standard of physiotherapy.