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All India Occupational Therapists’ Association

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All India Occupational Therapists’ Association (AIOTA) The 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Conference Celebration

WFOT congratulates AIOTA on the achievement of the 50th Anniversary of AIOTA Conferences. WFOT President Sharon Brintnell sent a letter of congratulations, which was published in the Souvenir booklet.

AIOTA President, Dr. Anil K. Srivastava, and Keynote Speaker, Toni Thompson (USA), share the following information with us.

The theme of the conference was ‘Research Informed Occupational Therapy in Health Care’. Dr Sunny Joseph was the Organising Secretary of this superbly organised mega event with international participation from USA, UK, New Zealand, Germany, Iran, and Kenya.

A press conference announced the opening of the Golden Jubilee of the AIOTA Conference in Trivandrum, Kerala, India. Several reporters, guest speakers from New Zealand, Great Britain and USA, professors from various universities and therapists from all parts of India joined the leaders of AIOTA and interacted. The group then socialised over an informal dinner with a variety of typical foods from the Kerala region of India, offering more opportunities to promote Occupational Therapy to the press in a relaxed format.

After AIOTA President, Dr. Anil Srivastava, led in lighting the ceremonial flame, over 450 therapists and students filled the auditorium for three days for Continued Occupational Therapy Education (COTE) and scientific sessions, sharing experiences and meals.

At the event inauguration, the AIOTA President said that even though a significant number of persons with disabilities live in rural areas, the services of occupational therapists were confined to urban areas and select institutions in the country. He requested the government to support the profession more, so that they could reach out to the rural areas. He further stressed the need to ensure that there are adequate posts of occupational therapists in all hospitals in the state and an occupational therapy College in government sector, as occupational therapy is a crucial part of the healthcare sector.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who inaugurated the conference, committed to develop the first occupational therapy educational program in the state of Kerala and assured the expansion of the services across the state. He was accompanied by the Finance Minister, Social Welfare Minister and members of legislative assembly of the Kerala State, who also assured of all support from the government for development of occupational therapy in the region.

The Key Note Address ‘Incorporating Our Past and Instinct into the Circle of Research and Practice’ was delivered by Ms. Toni Thompson (USA). Toni explored two essential concepts about evidence-based practice - examining the role of our Occupational Therapy past to advance into our Occupational Therapy future; and, defining the true research process. She challenged the conference delegates to consider that "In Occupational Therapy: on the foundation of our past and our present stands the future of our profession."

Guest lecturers from Otaga University at Dunedin in New Zealand, Dr. Mary Butler and Dr. James Sunderland involved the participants in interactive activities to demonstrate their unique teaching format and while Dr. Louise Conneeley from Coventry University reinforced the need for research in practice.

Indian Professor Dr.Punita V.Solanki presented a comprehensive guide to research management with extensive resources. Almost 40 master and PhD. level students presented their research findings on diverse evaluation and treatment tools. Several entered their research presentations for competitive awards, including the award named for the founder of occupational therapy in India, Kamala V. Nimbkar. The well appreciated competitive scientific exhibition was inaugurated by the Health Minister of Kerala, Dr M.K.Muneer.

The Anandan dance extravaganza burst with students forming colourful dance groups in competitive and non competitive categories for contemporary and traditional Indian culture dance and songs. To contribute to the International flavour, Keynote Speaker Toni Thompson and her husband presented a swing dance routine from the USA as the first non-Indian dance entry in the history of the event.

Students participated in competitive poster presentation sessions, short promotional movies, assessment tools, and therapeutic 3-D constructions. Student groups also showed off their street plays, performance arts works that can be presented at health fairs to promote public health and occupational therapy. At the high-energy closing ceremony, Mr T.P.Sreenivasan, the Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Council of Kerala state, reinforced the government's commitment to develop occupational therapy and an occupational therapy educational program in the area.

International delegates expressed positive feedback about the enthusiasm that therapists have generated in the students. Dr. Mary Butler summed up, "We have a lot to learn from the therapists and students of India!"

OT in India

The Golden Jubilee of the occupational therapy conference in India owes its origin to Kamala V. Nimbkar, a USA citizen, who married an Indian man who was studying engineering at the Columbia University in New York. She studied occupational therapy in Philadelphia and established the service in India in the early 1950's.

Today, India boasts of 5,000 occupational therapists and 26 teaching university programs with a strong presence in speciality areas of physical disabilities and mental health, and increasing involvement in paediatrics practice. Current goals include consideration of a national regulation mechanism, marketing of the field to high school students, enhanced promotion to health care professionals and government officials, increased educational programs, and service delivery expansion in all areas, with a focus on community based rehabilitation, disaster management and inclusive education.

The AIOTA also seeks to expand services in the government-stated move "from medical rehabilitation to social rehabilitation." Another excellent option lies in intensifying the current program for visitors coming for international medical travel to focus on international rehabilitation travel. Occupational therapy is on the move in India and this conference had all participants moving!



Inauguration by AIOTA President, Dr. Anil K. Srivastava, accompanied by Dean ACOT Jyothika Bijlani and speakers.