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President’s Message


President’s Message February 2018

What an exciting year 2017 has been and I would like to thank all of you who contributed to making 2017 such a successful year for WFOT.

One of our measures of success is the increase in the number of national occupational therapy associations who become WFOT Member Organisations, and it is with great pleasure that WFOT welcomes three new recently approved Member Organisations:
• The Kosovo Association of Ergotherapy as a Full Member, with an approved education programme (Bachelor of Science Ergotherapy, Kolegji Heimerer University, Pristina, Kosovo) 
• The Occupational Therapy Association of Morocco as a Full Member, with an approved education programme (Ergotherapie Program, Institute Superieur Des Profession Infermieres et Techniques de Sante (ISPITS), Rbat, Morocco)
• The Ukrainian Society of Ergotherapists, as an Associate Member. 

As we welcome new Member Organisations, we celebrate the achievements and anniversaries of others. In April 2017, the WFOT Executive Management Team (EMT) participated in the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Conference and Centennial celebrations with our American colleagues – it was a wonderful celebration of 100 years of the profession of occupational therapy. In the week prior to the AOTA Conference, the WFOT EMT held their annual face to face meeting to address the business of WFOT, and to review the progress being made as the international body representing occupational therapy.

There are many WFOT projects that were commenced in 2017 and are due for completion in 2018. Project reports will be tabled at the upcoming Council Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa in May. It would not be possible to undertake the many important WFOT projects without the major voluntary contribution of time and expertise from our colleagues from many countries. WFOT recruits project volunteers from a range of countries/regions to ensure an international perspective in the outcomes. I would like to thank all who have volunteered in projects including the development of position statements, review of WHO documents, establishing an online education module, responding to surveys, and much more. Our volunteers are our greatest asset – if you would like to be available as a volunteer, please speak with your WFOT delegate.

In 2017, WFOT met with several other international health organisations with the aim of informing and supporting each other particularly on issues relating to the WHO programme of work. Working together at the international level enables us to achieve a greater impact, and to promote the profession of occupational therapy at the highest level. I have recently returned from a series of meetings with the WHO in Geneva, addressing issues such as assistive technology, mental health, rehabilitation priorities, international classifications and human resources. These were meetings were all informative to the future WFOT agenda, and further information will be available at the Council Meeting and in future editions of the WFOT e-newsletter.

The WFOT Congress 2018 will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, 21 – 25 May 2018. I encourage you to attend this major international WFOT event which will provide many opportunities for professional development, networking, meeting old friends and making new ones. The Congress management team and sub-committees have all been working enthusiastically and energetically to ensure that the WFOT Congress 2018 is a great success. The theme is 'Connected in diversity: positioned for impact', and the programme will feature leading world experts, unique social events and an exhibition, all hosted in and around the Cape Town International Convention Centre.  
I am sure many of you have seen the increasing press coverage regarding the water situation in Cape Town. The WFOT Executive have kept in close communication with the international and local professional congress organisers as well as the local organising committee regarding the current situation.
The WFOT Congress 2018 Organising Committee, including local occupational therapists have worked extremely hard in bringing together the programme, which reflects the diversity and contribution of the global south.  WFOT has also used local suppliers including Township projects to source goods and services for the Congress. This is why WFOT is supporting Cape Town in their water shortage and are working on ways to minimise the impact of our delegates on the resources whilst providing much needed funds for the local economy. 
WFOT is currently consulting with its Executive Project Team on Sustainability and Sustainable Practice to consider ways of reducing the ecological impact of holding the Congress in Cape Town and contributing to the local economy and ecology. This group will continue to consult with the WFOT Executive Management Team to inform all decisions moving forward. 
Tourists only make a “small impact” on the water consumption during the peak season December – January. At any time, foreign tourists make up less than 1% of the Western Cape’s total population and by employing a few water-wise practices tourists and local visitors can avoid placing undue strain on water supply. We all need to be mindful of the water shortage conditions and contribute to the water saving measures. 
One immediate change will be the shortening of the WFOT Executive and Council Meetings (prior to the Congress) from two weeks to one week with the Executive Management Team Meeting being held on May 16th and 17th and the Council Meeting being held on May 18th, 19th and 20th.  Suggestions for conserving water have been provided to all potential participants. WFOT is also considering ways of supporting or participating in projects to proactively helping the community of Cape Town during the water crisis. Local personnel are currently working on identifying opportunities.
WFOT acknowledges that some colleagues may not agree with this decision and some will be supportive of our reasoning. This is a risk that WFOT faces with every decision it makes and I ask members and member organisations of WFOT and the global occupational therapy community to show its support for our African colleagues and participate in this exciting knowledge exchange that can only serve to enrich occupational therapy practice globally – see you in South Africa.

To support the success of the WFOT Congress 2018, please consider donating to the Congress Grants programme to assist a colleague to attend Congress, details are available at

All other information about Congress 2018 can be found at

Inspired by our achievements in 2017, I look forward to building on these achievements and creating new opportunities for WFOT and the occupational therapy profession in 2018. 

I encourage you all also to be inspired and share in the WFOT excitement again in 2018.

With Best Wishes for a healthy, happy and successful 2018.
Marilyn Pattison

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