International service

A new WCPT initiative to further the cause of international service attracted significant interest at congress.

Following a special meeting about how international expertise could be shared to meet the needs of developing countries, around 70 physiotherapists expressed an interest in forming a continuing network to take the initiative further. William Romani from the United States explained how he had become inspired by the idea of physical therapists volunteering, working or carrying out research outside their own country at the last WCPT congress in Barcelona. Mr Romani said only three per cent of people with disabilities in developing countries were receiving the services they needed, but if physiotherapists from more developed countries were going to help people in developing countries, they were going to have to expand their role. 'They're going to have to start educating,' he said. 'They're going to have to put an emphasis on transferring their skills to other people in the community. Physiotherapists could become the key catalysts in getting services to as many people as they can.' To do this effectively, physiotherapists would need to consult and supervise, he said. They would also need to be advocates for changing policies to be 'more effective political and policy agents'. Forming a network could be crucial for the development of international service, he said. 'We want to begin to determine how international rehabilitation expertise can be used to meet the needs out there. We need to identify the needs, and how we might meet them.' WCPT secretariat project manager Rachel Moore explained how the Confederation is supporting the idea with an international work and study section of its website. This includes a discussion forum, which is attracting increasing contributions from physiotherapists, and links to further sources of information. FURTHER

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