President’s Message for March 2015
As we all know time passes quickly and every one of us meets the future face to face every day. As with any organisation WFOT needs to address the challenges the future presents. WFOT continues to be a high energy, dynamic organisation with its roots firmly planted in tradition, its present focused on action and its future determined by its vision.
As world demographics change so do the requirements for health and occupational therapy services. The occupational therapy profession is constantly evolving to meet society's needs. Our future lies in being proactive in relation to global and local trends so I would like to devote part of this message to sharing a snapshot of some of the activities WFOT is undertaking to keep moving towards its vision.
The role for occupational therapy in primary health care, health promotion and prevention is broadening. This includes particularly the aging population and those with chronic conditions (non-communicable diseases or NCD’s), but also healthy people as well as those already affected by disease or disability. The WFOT collaborative activities with the World Health Organisation (WHO) are presently focussed on two projects – the “WHO Global Coordination Mechanism for the Prevention and Control of Non Communicable Diseases (GMC/NCDs); and the review of the draft report on Health and Aging. The response to WFOT’s call to Member Organisations to nominate occupational therapy experts to inform WFOT’s comments on the GMC/NCDs was very fruitful, and I am pleased to report that the WHO acknowledged the importance of the input of WFOT. Information on the GMC/NCDs, including WFOT’s feedback, is available at http://www.who.int/nmh/ncd-coordination-mechanism/en/
The WHO will be holding a meeting to specifically address the draft of the World Report on Aging and Health, in Geneva, Switzerland, 18 March 2015. Ritchard Ledgerd, WFOT Executive Director, and Dr. Jennifer Wenborn, Senior Research Fellow at the University College, London, will represent WFOT at this meeting, and ensure that the occupational therapy perspective is included in the Report. You can find information about WFOT’s activities with WHO on the WFOT website at http://www.wfot.org/AboutUs/InternationalLiaison/InternationalLiaisonArticles.aspx
WFOT continues to be involved in establishing practice standards and equality of service in these emerging areas. The World Federation is addressing this through the Use of Quality Indicator’s in Occupational Therapy and the Scope of Practice projects with the Practice Development Programme.
Internet access means a well-informed client group with demands for up-to-date services which are evidence based. Occupational therapists are responding by being more knowledgeable through appropriate research. WFOT has implemented a dedicated Research Programme area to develop the internal and external international research agenda.
Occupational therapy is becoming more global and addressing the occupation based problems of individuals and communities in transition - e.g. those affected by migration, disaster, or human conflict. This involves supporting people through the psychological stress as well as adjustment to new settings and circumstances. The World Federation is addressing this through the Disaster Preparedness and Response (DP&R) project and position statements on DP&R and Human Displacement – watch out for a DP&R on-line education module coming soon.
We need to address issues which affect human occupations such as environment and climate change. We cannot remain immune to these concerns as being outside our sphere of practice. The World Federation is addressing this through its Project on Guiding Principles on Occupational Therapy and Sustainable Development.
We need to continue to develop and incorporate information technology - using different and various means of communication and treatment implementation with our clients, our members and the community at large. WFOT has established an International Advisory Group (IAG): Social Networking.
Society and government resources will demand increased interdisciplinary collaboration and integration of services particularly in the community. The World Federation is addressing this a range of collaborative projects with other international NGO’s.
Occupational therapists need to develop their roles as social change agents, rather than just as professionals that make a difference at the level of people’s individual lives. In order to become change agents, the education of occupational therapists must include a strong component on enablement, advocacy, and social reform. The WFOT Minimum Standards are currently under review as part of the Education Master Plan combined with WFOT position papers, and information available on the WFOT website.
We must also maintain our sensitivity to local context – WFOT publication Guiding Principles on Diversity and Culture 2009 and a current project on Indigenous Cultural Integrity.
The Executive Management Team (EMT) is currently preparing for the Executive Management Team Meeting (EMTM), to be held 21 – 25 April in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The annual EMTM serves to ensure that the business of WFOT continues to be managed and progressed between Council Meetings. In addition to attending to WFOT business, the EMT looks forward to meeting with our Argentinian colleagues to address issues such as promoting occupational therapy in the health care and educational systems. The EMT will also take the opportunity to contribute to educational events for local occupational therapists whilst in Argentina.
At the beginning of my message a referred to time passing quickly and it is difficult to believe that the first quarter of 2015 has almost gone. To our Asian colleagues I wish you Kung Hei Fat Choi for the Year of the Goat as you begin your new year.
I encourage all of you to keep contacting WFOT with your feedback, inquiries and ideas and look forward to meeting many of you in the future.