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President’s Message



President’s Message – June 2017

One of the key remits of WFOT is to provide educational opportunities for occupational therapists, to support the use and development of evidence-based occupational therapy internationally and address the needs of low income countries and underserved communities.

The WFOT Congress 2018, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, 21 – 25 May 2018, is the major international WFOT event to provide opportunities for the professional development of occupational therapists from around the world.

A total of 2,457 abstracts from 76 countries were submitted for Congress 2018, with just over 11% of these abstracts coming from the African region. The abstracts are currently being reviewed, and the Congress Committee will be selecting abstracts to form an exciting and diverse programme, with a range of learning opportunities and formats for all attending. Session formats will include Keynote Presentations, symposia, short and longer oral presentations, poster displays, and in-congress short workshops. Topics will include Human Rights and Health; Culture and Occupation; Mental Health; Physical Health; Practice Development/Capacity Building; Research/Knowledge Translation; Disaster Management, Preparedness, Response and Recovery; Ageing and Health/Older Adults; Children, Youth and Families and Contemporary Practice Issues.

In addition to the Congress programme, a Pre Congress workshop programme will be offered to all and Education Day will be available for academics.

WFOT has a six year planning cycle for each international Congress (held every four years). Much time and effort is involved in bringing a comprehensive Congress programme to our colleagues from around the world. Hundreds of volunteers contribute to this process, and I thank all who have or will be contributing.

I invite you to attend Congress 2018 in Cape Town and avail yourself of the many opportunities for professional development, networking, meeting old friends and making new ones. Here are some comments from attendees at previous WFOT Congresses to inspire you:

Good mix of critical perspectives of contemporary core issues that impact our profession's evolution globally and locally.

The keynote which opened the congress was fantastic! It brought to surface many international themes that we may not necessarily be exposed to in any other situation during our career. I strongly believe that taking part in the keynote presentations of this congress has expanded our knowledge as well as promoted critical thinking in an international manner;
something that exceeded my expectations!

I could see links with the work of OT under different looks, from different countries and regions
The strength was the international exchange. Also the addition of a historical and philosophical dialogue.

Excellent variety of sessions.

It was my first congress abroad, I think it is fantastic to be able to meet like this.’

You can also support a Colleague to Attend Congress.
The WFOT Grants programme was established for the Congress 2006 in Australia to assist attendance at WFOT Congresses, and it has been used for every Congress since then. Over the years, many colleagues have been enabled to attend Congress to present their work through the support of funds from the WFOT Grants Programme. This programme is again available for Congress 2018, and your donation can support colleagues from Africa and other low / middle income countries to attend.
All Congress 2018 details, including how to make your donation, are available at

The WFOT Disaster Management for Occupational Therapists (DMOT) online module, previewed in my previous President’s Message, has been successfully launched, with 73 occupational therapists already registered for the course. Again, WFOT has made a significant investment of resources to develop this first ever online educational module.

WFOT has a significant history in the area of Disaster Preparedness and Response (DP&R), beginning with action immediately following the Indian Ocean Tsunami Disaster in 2004. Since this time, WFOT has developed relevant reports and information manuals, and communicates directly with and provides support to Member Organisations at the time of any natural disaster in their country. WFOT also liaises with the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding DP&R and related occupational therapy services.

The DMOT online module incorporates the WFOT experience and agenda in DP&R and provides a flexible and accessible learning opportunity for occupational therapists regardless of their geographical location. Find out more at

I encourage you to access these WFOT educational opportunities - WFOT looks forward to developing more educational resources in the future as part of the WHO/WFOT Collaboration Plan.

World Occupational Therapy Day, 27 October
This is an early reminder that the WFOT World Occupational Therapy Day will again be celebrated on 27th October. Start making your plans now – and look out for the related resources that will become available via the WFOT website over the coming months.

With best wishes
Marilyn Pattison
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