Strengthening the rehabilitation professions in Pakistan as a unified interprofessional group

Thanks to enthusiastic interprofessional collaboration, a recent meeting held in Pakistan enabled important progress towards strengthening and developing capacity among rehabilitation professionals, academic institutions and regulation stakeholders to deliver global standard education and services for the wellbeing of the community. 

At the end of April a 3-day ReLAB-HS training was held in Pakistan – this was the second in-person meeting this year focussed on rehabilitation workforce capacity building. The meeting brought together an interdisciplinary group of 30 participants from academic institutions and professional associations from two provinces in Pakistan; KP and Sindh. Hosted by Cheryl Footer, Yara Peterko and Neelum Zehra from Physiopedia, this was an opportunity to provide training on the implementation of the International Rehabilitation Education and Training Toolkit ( IRETT), in particular the Professionalisation and Regulation Reflection Tool (PRRT) and the Academic Program Reflection Tool (APRT) of the IRETT.

The PRRT uses a reflective review process to discover opportunities to create policies that will professionalise and strengthen regulation of the rehabilitation professions. Using the PRRT enabled work towards both a code of ethics for rehabilitation professions and a scope of practice of each rehabilitation profession to establish clear professional territories and career paths, which may in the future be rolled out nationally through Pakistan.  

I wanted to extend my deepest gratitude for your invaluable guidance regarding developing scope of practice for PT. Not only did it allowed me to understand the critical aspects related developing scope of practice but it also provided an opportunity to review and provide opinion on scope of practice developed by fellow OTs, SLT and P&Os…an opportunity to deepen our understanding of each other’s work and scope of practice. I believe such understanding would ultimately result in enhanced collaboration and cooperation in our fields. – Dr Muhammad Ehab Azim Physiotherapist, PPTA, AHPC member

The APRT focuses on strengthening rehabilitation academic programmes and was used to identify opportunities to strengthen academic programmes in Pakistan, and thereby strengthen the rehabilitation workforce to meet global standards of practice.

This training balanced theoretical frameworks with practical insights, equipping me with a comprehensive understanding of academic and professional responsibilities within the realm of rehabilitation… Through interactive sessions and group activities, I gained invaluable insights into the nuanced challenges and evolving trends within the field, empowering me to craft responsive and impactful programs that resonate with diverse communities. Overall, these tools implementation activities have enhanced my proficiency. Also, instilled in me a deeper sense of responsibility and purpose within the realm of rehabilitation – Shahabudin, Senior Occupational Therapist/ Lecturer, Ziauddin University

Making the most of the opportunity for different professions to work together, there was lively discussion and interprofessional collaboration encompassing audiology, clinical psychology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, prosthetics and orthotics and speech and language.

The participants shared their professional expertise, challenges, strategies and resources as they learnt how to effectively use the PRRT and APRT for continuous improvement and development through self-reflection.

These are not only words, we can achieve that!

Learnings from these discussions will better prepare participants to address practical hurdles in bringing about changes in their own settings, which will support sustainability of the activities in the long term.

This meeting provided a rare opportunity for different professions to work together and inspired all to continue collaborating to strengthen the rehabilitation professions as a unified group.

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.