Recognising the role of rehabilitation education for peace and development on #InternationalDayOfEducation

Education is a human right. Education is a key sustainable development goal. Education is a key priority area for scaling up rehabilitation. Today, on International Day of Education, we reflect on the role of rehabilitation education for peace and development.

Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. The right to education is enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The international community adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015 and education was recognised as being essential for the success of all seventeen goals. Sustainable Development Goal 4, in particular, aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. Towards this, the Rehabilitation 2030 initiative draws attention to the profound unmet need for rehabilitation worldwide. With priority area number 6, the call for action highlighted the need to “develop a strong multidisciplinary rehabilitation workforce that is suitable for country context, and promote rehabilitation concepts across all health workforce education”.

It is recognised that all countries face some degree of deficiency, maldistribution or issues with rehabilitation worker performance and productivity. This challenge is profoundly evident in low- and middle-income countries where rehabilitation is often still emerging, underdeveloped and poorly resourced. Inadequate institutional capacity for education and training has been recognised as a key factor that underlies these rehabilitation workforce challenges and many initiatives are underway to do something about this.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created tools such as the Guide for Rehabilitation Workforce Evaluation that can be used to support activities to strengthen the rehabilitation workforce. More specifically to education, the Rehabilitation Competency Framework can be used to support the development of competent rehabilitation professionals. The World Rehabilitation Alliance is creating resources to advocate for increased investmentment in quality rehabilitation education and training. When such investment becomes available, together, stakeholders such as education institutions, non-governmental organisations and professional associations will be able to step up activities to advance education and training programmes worldwide.

Physiopedia is all about education. We visualise a world where every person recognises the value of rehabilitation and has access to quality rehabilitation care. To make this a reality we are on a mission to provide universal and equitable access to all rehabilitation knowledge. This is our contribution:

  1. Physiopedia provides free access to quality evidence-based rehabilitation knowledge. This knowledge translation platform is integrated into training activities at clinics, hospitals, professional associations and universities worldwide and used by around 3 million individuals from every country in the world every month. 
  2. Physiopedia Plus provides equitable access to online courses and resources for a deeper learning experience. Knowledge is shared by internationally respected experts in the context of accredited courses that count towards continuing education and professional development activities. Physiopedia values inclusivity and access to these resources is provided free of charge to organisations in low- and middle-income countries where they otherwise don’t have access to such quality resources. 
  3. Our grant funded international development work is always focused on activities to strengthen the rehabilitation workforce through education and training initiatives. With ReLAB-HS we are creating an International Rehabilitation Education and Toolkit (IRETT) that contains practical guides to support activities that strengthen education, professional development, regulation, and advocacy. This toolkit is designed to complement the work of others and bring stakeholders together for a strong interprofessional approach to advancing education and training activities. The IRETT is being implemented in multiple countries, such as SRSHS in Ukraine, and ReLAB-HS in Uganda and Pakistan. With others we are creating training resources for rehabilitation professionals, such as the Training in Assistive Products from the WHO.

We firmly believe that access to quality education and training of rehabilitation professionals is the cornerstone to health. Health is a human right, for health we need functioning health systems and for a functioning health systems we need appropriate integration of rehabilitation services. Quality rehabilitation services need appropriate numbers of well trained rehabilitation professionals and for this quality education (per-service) and training (in-service) is a requirement.  

We are doing all that we can within our realm of expertise, but we also firmly believe that this is not something that can be done alone.  Collaboration is key and the education and training of rehabilitation professionals is something that must be done together. We will continue to support stakeholders to implement Physiopedia, Physiopedia Plus and the IRETT into their education and training activities, and prioritise joint efforts to strengthen the integration of rehabilitation into health systems through education.