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Government to train more physiotherapists to address shortage and growing population 

The growing population increase in accidents and change in disease patterns have led to many people in need of physiotherapy services which was stretching all the available physiotherapist.

To counter these trends, Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Rashid  Amana  said the government will train more physiotherapists as well as building and equipping more health facilities.

Amana who was speaking on Wednesday while officially opening the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) conference (East African chapter) at a Nairobi hotel said that the government is seeking to address the role of physiotherapists in the changing health environment where the pursuit of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is at center stage

“The rise in none communicable diseases, trauma and injuries due to accidents and violence has expanded the space for professional physiotherapists,” said Amana.

The CAS highlighted that Kenya has made tremendous steps in addressing challenges in the health sector by embracing the provision of medical cover for all households by 2022 under the big4 agenda and this will guarantee access to quality and affordable health care for Kenyans.

“To achieve this, the government aims to use the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to increase enrolment of Kenyans who are covered by insurance schemes from the current 16.5 million to 25 million by the end of 2018 and to have all Kenyans under cover by the year 2022,” said Amana.

He added that the government aims to expand the program to other players including mission and private hospitals to provide specialized health equipment and facilities including offering physiotherapy services

“Our approach for UHC will be based on building and consolidating our primary health care services because it is there that we feel the investment will be most felt because it is at that level that we prevent and promote good medicine and can ensure we can sustain the investment of UHC,” explained the CAS.

He said that Africa faces many challenges including change in disease patterns and burst in population insisting that this conference will help in making strategic decisions in ensuring implementation of interventions to effectively realize meaningful outcomes.

The  Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) Head of Physiotherapy training, Daniel Muli said that they have been having challenges of training physiotherapist as they were the only ones teaching the course.

“Currently there are three universities training on physiotherapy but there is a challenge of manpower development to train the students plus the facilities for training,” said Muli.

He continued… “We don’t have physiotherapists in the lower healthcare delivery unites like health centers and dispensaries that is level one ant two but from level three and above we do have those services.”

Muli said that it is expensive to start a physiotherapy department because of the equipment which is required but as a country we are trying although we have not reached the levels that we require.

The  Chairman for the African region of World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT), Jonathan Quartey said that in terms of human resource the number of physiotherapist in Africa is very low.

“Some countries have as low as four physiotherapist and in the recent times they have moved to 11 and they have over 450, 000 that need rehabilitation. In Kenya there are over 1, 000 physiotherapists,” he said.

He added that there is no good will from African governments in the physical therapy sector since governments set aside huge chunks of funds for the health sector but certain departments receive more attention than others.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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