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World Health Organisation (WHO)

Collaboration between WFOT and WHO

A WFOT priority is to ‘Participate in and support WHO and other international organisations’ initiatives (WFOT Strategic Plan, 2007). Therefore, a major vehicle of the World Federation to be proactive and responsive to global emerging health and social issues is its vital collaborative relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO). This formal relationship has been in existence since 1959 and in October 2009 the World Federation and the WHO celebrated their 50th anniversary of collaboration. The WHO again endorsed future collaboration in 2014. WFOT continues to contribute to the WHO activities through fostering multisectoral partnerships, building capacity among health rehabilitation policy makers and service providers, raising the awareness of the magnitude and consequences of disability, education, promoting community based rehabilitation and mainstreaming disability within WHO in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

WFOT, with its global engagement towards the inclusion of people with disabilities, is an important partner for making a significant contribution to the implementation of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Most recently, WFOT has responded to preliminary drafts of the ‘Disability Action Plan’ to support the Disability agenda within the UN Millennium Development Goals post 2015. WFOT continues to attend WHO Executive Board meetings, and support the WHO initiatives.

A number of primary areas include:

World Report on Disability

WFOT was involved as a member of the advisory group in developing the World Report on Disability, June 2011. WFOT President Professor Sharon Brintnell attended the launch of the World Report on Disability.

Health Workforce Data Collection

The WFOT Human Resources project has been acknowledged as a good model for collecting data on the health workforce. The survey is a significant tool for the organisation as its results provide timely data of great assistance in answering requests about the profession in addition to promoting our global demographics to key stakeholders. WFOT is continuing to liaise with the Health Workforce Migration and Retention Team.

Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR)

WFOT continues to promote CBR through its website and contributions to the CBR guidelines as well as to their dissemination. The Federation actively promotes CBR research at a global level with its members and through inter-professional forums. Currently the examination of the ICF within CBR practice is underway.


A number of initiatives are underway. These include: the development of a curriculum on rehabilitation and human rights, the support of the dissemination and implementation of the World Health Report on Disability and Rehabilitation, participation in the development of a multidisciplinary course on the Care of the Older Person (INIA), development of an educational module in collaboration with WHO on disaster preparedness and response, capacity building of rehabilitation providers in low and middle income countries to meet international standards.

Disability Research

Topics under consideration are community based rehabilitation, quality assurance examining after-care of stroke survivors, data generation relating to various ICF core sets, and consultation on the development of the International Classification of Health Interventions and their relevance to rehabilitation and disability.

Healthy Workplaces

WFOT has actively contributed to development of the WHO Healthy Workplaces Framework and continues to be involved in the implementation strategies. A successful workshop on Workplace Adaption & Reasonable Accommodation was conducted at the WHO Headquarters in October 2009.

Mental Health Initiative

The outreach to the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse continues. A select list of empirical evidence supporting occupational therapy services was provided and is ongoing. Comment on the revision to the ICD-10 was also requested. 

A master plan developed by the WFOT Executive programme area was broadened by the perspective and input of the International Advisory Group: Mental Health (IAG: MH). The plan addresses data collection on current services, human resources, research and strategies for promotion and dissemination of occupational therapy.

WFOT actively supports WHO in other ways:

WFOT works closely with the WHO Disability and Rehabilitation Team (DAR) to ensure that WFOT and occupational therapy contributes to many WHO projects.

To access the DAR newsletter, go to

Personal Mobility and Mobility Devices

WFOT has contributed to the WHO Joint Position Paper on the Provision of Mobility Devices in less resourced settings, and participated in significant meetings to identify ways of strengthening access to assistive/mobility devices and to develop an action plan to support the Joint Position Paper.

Wheelchair Provision and Training

Following the release in 2008 of the WHO Guidelines on the provision of Manual Wheelchairs in less resourced settings, the Disability and Rehabilitation (DAR) unit at the WHO is now developing Wheelchair Training Packages. WFOT has contributed information from members about guidelines or minimum recommendations that are used in regard to wheelchair training, and, interest in accessing and implementing the training packages once developed.

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