Opportunity + Choice = Justice | World OT Day 2022

Since World Occupational Therapy Day was launched in 2010, 27 October has been a significant day for occupational therapists all over the globe to promote and celebrate this valued rehabilitation profession. 

Each year’s celebrations have a different focus, and the theme for 2022 promotes how occupational therapy affords greater opportunity and choice to promote a more open and just society.

This is an inspiring objective, and it is in line with the Physiopedia and ReLAB-HS vision of a world where quality rehabilitation services are available and accessible to all. So for #WorldOTDay 2022, we are considering the role of occupational therapists in an equitable and just global rehabilitation provision.

Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and wellbeing through occupation.” World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT)

It is estimated that one in three people globally are living with a health condition that would benefit from rehabilitation, but this essential health service is often overlooked, particularly in lower income countries and those affected by conflict. It is in these settings particularly (but certainly not exclusively) that opportunity and choice can be limited. Not just in terms of a lack of skilled rehabilitation professionals such as occupational therapists, and reduced access to quality rehabilitation services – but with lower resources comes occupational deprivation and ultimately injustice.

The unmet need for physical rehabilitation is vast and urgent. More than half of people living in low- and middle-income countries who require rehabilitation services do not receive them. Vulnerable and marginalised people, including those living in conflict settings, are most affected.

The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life that are meaningful to them. Occupational therapists achieve this by working with individuals and communities to enhance their ability to engage in occupations, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement and performance.

Occupational therapists have a holistic approach to both mental and physical wellbeing. As problem solvers and critical thinkers they are particularly well placed to work in challenging rehabilitation settings – adapting their skills and role to the needs of those they serve. No matter the culture or socioeconomic background, or indeed the presence of conflict, occupational therapists respect and partner with individuals to support their rehabilitation by enabling them to participate in the occupations they want to do personally, as well as the things they need or are expected to do socially and culturally.

Wherever they are in the world, occupational therapists are client-centered and occupation-focused. Led by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), they are responding to the global rehabilitation need by giving people access to more choices and helping them to grasp opportunities – all working towards justice in the accessibility of rehabilitation.

How you can get involved with World OT Day 2022

Thanks to the USAID-funded ReLAB-HS collaboration, if you are a practicing occupational therapist in a low-income country, please contact us to see how you can access Physiopedia Plus for free for your professional development. Click here to ask about free access or click here to learn how to partner with us through your organisation.

This work is supported by the USAID funded Learning Acting Building for Rehabilitation in Health Systems (ReLAB-HS) project and is not possible without the generous and committed contribution of the Leahy War Victims fund.

ReLAB-HS is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented under cooperative agreement number 7200AA20CA00033. The consortium is managed by prime recipient, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.