Challenges facing physiotherapy education in Africa

13 Dec 2010

Health care is changing and the demands put on health professionals are increasing. Physiotherapy education should reflect the health and social priorities of the nation. The World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) is committed to assisting physiotherapy associations in developing educational standards. Physiotherapy education in Africa however, seems to have a real need for assistance from the WCPT. The aim of this paper is to highlight the challenges facing physiotherapy education in Africa. The Delphi methodology was used to obtain information from key informants involved in the area of physiotherapy education from a variety of African countries. The majority of the participants were people who have experienced physiotherapy education in Africa either as graduates or current teachers. Data were analyzed into themes and sent back to respondents for confirmation. The most important challenges highlighted were: lack of undergraduate training opportunities, limited number of therapists, upgrading of physiotherapy educators, research as a major component of physiotherapy education, and recognition of physiotherapy as an essential service. It is concluded that assistance is needed for physiotherapists from Africa to take their rightful place in the health team and higher education institutions should look at improving diploma qualifications of physiotherapists in African countries.