Ugo Aliogo, Christopher Ike and Chiamaka Akumka
The Chief Executive Officer of Medical Rehabilitation Therapists Board of Nigeria (MRTB), Mrs. Olufunke Akanle, has called on the federal government to drive policy inclusion for the physically challenged in the society, in order to ensure that they are fully recognised.
She disclosed this recently at a media briefing in Lagos to announce the maiden edition of the International Conference for Medical Rehabilitation Professionals (ICMRP) which will be organised by the board from September 20-22 in Lagos. The conference which will take place at Lagos Airport Hotel Ikeja, has the theme: ‘Medical Rehabilitation Service in Community and Primary Healthcare in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa’.
She called on government to build a one-stop centre to manage the critical disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, stroke and others, adding that this would assist victims with these disabilities to receive adequate treatment.
Akanle lamented that there is a low level of sensitisation about medical rehabilitation from government to the people, stating that there is need to increase the awareness level especially in rural communities where they concentrate on trado-medical solutions to cure disabilities.
The MRTB CEO further stated that the lack of manpower and inadequate facilities have affected the practice of the profession and treatment of patients with disabilities.
She said: “Manpower is a big challenge for us. We have only nine institutions running physiotherapy and these institutions sometimes produce 18 or 30 therapists. We have 4,000 professionals meeting the needs of a population of 170 million people. We don’t have enough equipment to carry out treatment for patients. Rehabilitation is a multi-dimensional approach.
We need collaborative efforts in addressing the issue. In 2015, the board organised a policy development technical working group on the formulation of a disability policy and bill for its inclusion in the National Health Policy. The good news is that a fraction of it appeared in the National Health Policy. Our desire is that a Bill of Disability Concerns will have exhaustive pages wholly addressing matters as concerning Persons Living with Disabilities and their access to Health.”
Speaking on the conference, she noted that it would focus on planning towards the implementation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2014-2012 action plans for disability in Sub-Saharan Africa.
She maintained that it would also focus on developing relevant policies and regulations to drive disability and rehabilitation services in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa, while devising multi-sectoral collaboration for the full implementation of the WHO Action Plan in the country and Sub-Sahara