In our recently-published annual review of activities in 2021, Emma Stokes, World Physiotherapy president, said the year had been one of contrasts as countries and territories emerged from lockdowns and restrictions only to be right back in them again.
Emma said: “The consequences of the early lockdowns began to become apparent as we saw the implications in the health care systems of the lack of access to timely services such as physiotherapy and rehabilitation.”
One of the impacts of the pandemic was that many organisations moved from in-person to online events. World Physiotherapy was not alone in making this pivot and in April 2021 held the organisation’s first online congress.
Emma said: “The excitement and engagement generated by participants at World Physiotherapy’s first online congress reinforced that it was the right decision to pivot from an in-person event, which delivered an excellent service to many members of our member organisations.
“We continued to support, connect, grow, advocate and influence. I think it is clear that when things continued to be challenging, we continued to be at our best.”
Jonathon Kruger, World Physiotherapy chief executive officer, said the pandemic had created changes that may take decades to reverse for some countries and territories.
“The health workforce exodus in some countries and territories due to illness, disability or burnout is nothing less than catastrophic. The profound health workforce shift is becoming a global crisis and one that will increasingly be a focus of World Physiotherapy activities in the coming years.”
He said the online congress provided an opportunity for the global physiotherapy community to come together - to meet and support each other while collectively teaching and learning. He said this was what guided the organisation to hold our first online congress in 2021.
“The sense of community and engagement that comes from catching up with old friends, making new friends, and networking with colleagues from across the globe are the components that make a World Physiotherapy congress so unique.
“For these reasons we are committed to delivering an in-person congress in 2023 and look forward to delivering an event in which highlights the latest developments across the fields of research, education, management, policy, and clinical practice.”
Jonathon also highlighted a number of activities, including:
- the start of centralised secretariat support for four of World Physiotherapy’s regions
- development of an online leadership programme
- finalisation of regulations to support the activities of the constitution
- staff and board member presentations to member organisation events in all five of World Physiotherapy’s regions.