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President’s Message



President’s Message – March 2017

In my President’s Message in January 2017, I outlined some of the WFOT key activities that would be happening in 2017. I am proud to report that the achievements to date this year for the WFOT have been exceptional.

The WFOT Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists (revised 2016) (MSEOT Revised 2016) came into operation in January 2017, and following engagement with the WFOT Member Organisations and other key groups, a detailed plan for all aspects for the international implementation of the MSEOT (Revised 2016) was agreed at the recent WFOT Executive Management Team Meeting 2017, in Philadelphia USA. The WFOT is particularly grateful to the several Member Organisations who have already offered to support the translation of the MSEOT (Revised 2016) into their national languages. This support will ensure that the WFOT educational standards can not only be implemented at national universities, but in addition can be provided to the governmental agencies in these countries to ensure that the education of occupational therapists can be of the highest standard as well international endorsement, recognition and consistency.

It is important to understand that the WFOT Educational Programmes Approval Process is unique in the health professions. No other profession, including medicine, reviews individual programme curricula internationally. Most have only guidelines that assist curriculum constructors in their work in developing entry level educational programmes. The WFOT Educational Programmes Approval Process has been in place almost 60 years (commenced in 1958). It is conducted by the WFOT Education Programme, is confidential and transparent, and can be incorporated into other processes such as university accreditation requirements, national processes and those specific to each WFOT Member Organisation.

The focus of the WFOT approval process is establishing universal and global standards that ensure continuity and consistency in the entry level preparation of occupational therapists internationally. The preservation of the educational standards and the ability of a country’s programmes to meet these standards are of the highest priority to the WFOT.

The WFOT Congress 2018 Call for Abstracts opened in January 2017. The deadline for submission of abstracts is18 May 2017. Many abstracts covering a range of topics of interest to an international audience have already been submitted. The WFOT encourages you to consider submitting an abstract, with the potential of sharing your experiences and expertise with international colleagues – please act now.

Each WFOT International Congress offers unique opportunities for delegates to engage with colleagues from around the world, to learn about international practice, professional issues and directions and, most importantly, to engage in an international community for learning and communication.

We look forward to being inspired by Keynote Speakers Dr Elelwani Ramugondo (Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town) and Dr Karen Whalley Hammell (Honorary Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada), other key speakers and all those who will be selected to deliver presentations in the wide ranging WFOT Congress 2018 programme.

Our colleagues in South Africa are working hard to provide an exciting and stimulating programme in Cape Town, May 2018.

The latest information on the WFOT Congress 2018 is available at the WFOT Congress 2018 website

The WFOT continues to contribute to the health care agenda at the international level. In February, the WFOT participated in the WHO high level meeting ‘Rehabilitation 2030: A Call for Action’ in Geneva. A significant outcome from this meeting was the development of a Global Consortium of Health Professions which will support the WHO Rehabilitation 2030 to raise awareness for the need to strengthen rehabilitation in health systems to meet the existing and future needs of populations, and for a coordinated and concerted global action towards strengthening rehabilitation in health systems. The WFOT will be an active participant in this consortium.

The following statements were submitted by WFOT to this meeting, and to the WHO 140th session of the Executive Board (January 2017):
Statement in response to WHO Rehabilitation 2030 a Call for Action Plan
Statement in support of Promoting the Health of Migrants
• Draft global action plan on the public health response to dementia

The WFOT has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) to promote collaboration and cooperation between the two organisations, to contribute to a better world for persons with disability. The WFOT looks forward to contributing to the ISPO Conference in May 2017, in South Africa, to progress areas of mutual interest. 

Cochrane Rehabilitation has also invited the WFOT to join the Advisory Board to enable occupational therapy to be represented at this level. The WFOT is delighted to accept this invitation, and looks forward to a fruitful collaboration.

In addition to contributing to global health care issues, the WFOT continues to provide services and to advocate for occupational therapists and occupational therapy services.

The WFOT Disaster Management for Occupational Therapists (DMOT) online module will be launched in April 2017. This will be the first ever WFOT educational opportunity to be delivered online. The WFOT thanks those who have contributed significant time and expertise to the development and testing of the content and technology to support this project.

The Member Organisations will be informed when the module is finalised and available on the website.

The book ‘Disaster and Development: An occupational therapy perspective’ edited by Nancy Rushford and Kerry Thomas, is the required text to accompany the DMOT. Purchase of the online module and the text will provide income to the WFOT to support the work of the Federation. Watch this website for further details.

The WFOT has prepared and implemented the advocacy plan for lobbying the International Labour Organization (ILO) regarding the description of occupational therapists in the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO). A tool kit has been circulated and Member Organisations have been requested to participate in this lobbying strategy.

The WFOT Executive Management Team (EMT), held their annual face to face meeting in Philadelphia, USA, in late March. This four day meeting focussed on the business of the WFOT. The resulting actions for the EMT include: plans to develop further Position Statements; ongoing support for the WHO Disability Action Plan; development of a project plan to support the WHO Health and Ageing Action Plan; progress the WFOT Mental Health Master Plan, and liaise with WHO; implement the MSEOT (Revised 2016), and action translations; continue to liaise with and seek input from Member Organisations on specific issues; set up international review teams/working groups for projects as required; and continue with specific actions relating to governance and financial management of the WFOT.

Following this meeting, the EMT was delighted to join our colleagues in the USA in the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) 2017 Annual Conference & Expo and Centennial Celebration. This event was a resounding success, with over 15,000 delegates attending. The Executive participated in a range of meetings and conference sessions including:
• Meeting with Academic Leadership Council
• Meeting with Assembly of Student Delegates
• International Breakfast: World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) - Partnering for Success
• A Globally Connected Profession (Short course): WFOT and AOTA Consolidating Occupational Therapy Gains Internationally
• Conversations that Matter (session)
• Various receptions and similar networking events

The WFOT thanks AOTA for providing an Exhibition booth, at which WFOT promoted the WFOT Congress 2018, and provided information on the activities and resources provided by the WFOT. It was exciting to meet so many delegates and share information and ideas.

Congratulations to AOTA on celebrating 100 years, and of the significant achievements for the profession in the USA over the past 100 years. The WFOT wishes all continued success for the profession in the future.
The WFOT is looking forward to another significant achievement over the coming weeks – the launch of a new-look website. This new website will provide a wider range of information and services, and will be a fresh face for our organisation. Please look out for the new website (same address, and take advantage of all the opportunities that will be available.

What an exciting start to 2017 and there are many more achievements to come.

With best wishes
Marilyn Pattison
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