POINTING OUT that only one percent of people with disabilities have access to allied health facilities like occupational therapy, president of the All India Occupational Therapists’ Association (AIOTA) Anil Srivastava on Friday said that the need of the hour is to promote community based rehabilitation.
There are about 600 million people with different disabilities and 80 percent of them live in rural areas. But only 1 percent of these have access to occupational therapists and other allied health facilities. Institution rehabilitation is not possible to meet this demand and hence there is a need to promote community-based rehabilitations, said Srivastava.
He said this while speaking at the inauguration of ‘EMCON 07’ (Ergo Medicine Conference), the 44th annual national conference of the All India Occupational Therapists’ Association on the theme ‘Evidence Based Practice: An Impetus for Research’ at the Anand Mohan Mathur Sabha Griha here.
The three-day conference has been organised jointly by AIOTA and Bhandari Group of Hospital, Shri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Sciences and Indian Institute of Medical Sciences.
Emphasising that occupational therapists need to enhance and adjust capabilities according to the changing environment, Srivastava, in his presidential speech, said, “We need to make more visible our distinguished contribution in the medical field so that the government and the policy makers realise that total health care is not possible without the help of occupational therapists”.
Guest of honour Laurie Farrow from Australia pointed out the huge gap in demand-supply of occupational therapists in India. “Australia has 11,000 occupational therapists making it 30/1,000 ratio; in India, this ratio is not even one percent against the need of 300,000; you have a long way to go”, the Australian expert said.
Observing that India is the largest growing population, which will mean largest number of ageing population soon Farrow said, “There may be more problems if there is not sufficient number of occupational therapists”.
In her address, chief guest Carolyn Webster, the immediate past president of WFOT, said, “In the present scenario, we need to work for some more viable options; one can be funded research; more and more research can be done in this field and those interested can approach the AIOTA for funding”. Chairman of the Bhandari Group of Hospitals Vinod Bhandari said occupational therapy is a fast emerging branch of allied health. He also underscored the need of holding continuous education programmes for the teachers involved in this profession.
Founded in 1952, today AIOTA has about 3,000 members. The vice president of the association Zerene Ferzandi said this is one therapy which focuses on the preventive, curative and rehabilitative aspects keeping in mind the individual patient’s need. Chairperson of the organising scientific committee I R Kenkare also spoke on the occasion.