A crowd of people around a banner reading 'Projet SUDA'

SUDA project

Our work in Mali, Niger and Senegal

About the SUDA project

Our first major project began in 2016 and covered three countries in Africa. Known as the SUDA project, its aims were to:

  • Strengthen the physiotherapy associations
  • Use the standards set by World Physiotherapy
  • Develop a paper on physiotherapy assistants’ role
  • Augment wheelchair training

The SUDA project involved working with people who had been practising physiotherapy for 20 years or more, but in a different way from contemporary physiotherapy practice. Head of programmes and development Sidy Dieye knew the region well. He’s worked extensively there and is from Senegal originally. 

“I needed to get to know the local physiotherapists and to get to know their needs,” Sidy said.

Our first step was to assess the existing in each country and identify what was needed to bring it to an appropriate standard. We then looked at developing a CPD programme to respond to the needs expressed by the physiotherapists.

But we knew that a lot more was needed to sustain the gains after the project ended. It would not be enough just to descend on each country for the duration of a project, then leave them to it.

Our intention was to leave the physiotherapists in each country with the skills to continue their development long after the World Physiotherapy project finished. 

“They have to come to a level where they realise nobody can do it but themselves,” says Sidy.

The French-speaking part of the Africa region already had some well-developed physiotherapy courses in Rwanda, in Ivory Coast and also in Benin, where the Belgian government had supported courses. 

“So we invited Benin, Ivory Coast and Rwanda to get involved,” he says.

SUDA encouraged the establishment of a network of physiotherapists, which has strengthened and perpetuated exchanges between physiotherapists.
Joseph Martial CAPO-CHICHITweet this

Networking and resource-sharing

The group created a networking and resource-sharing WhatsApp group that offers mutual advice and support for more than 150 physiotherapists from 12 countries. The forum, known as the Rassemblement des Physiotherapeutes de l'Afrique Francophone (RAPAF) is now a good exchange platform for physiotherapists in French-speaking Africa. 

The SUDA project ended in 2018 but its legacy remains. Local physiotherapy associations have taken responsibility for continuing the work by providing face to face continuing professional development as well as online courses, while also engaging their authorities in helping to develop the profession. 

The professional associations in Morocco, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Mali have joined World Physiotherapy. Niger was already a member when the project started.

Impact of the SUDA project

As for influencing, the raised profile for the profession has led to talks with government officials in Senegal to discuss how physiotherapists could help develop rehabilitation programmes for those affected by the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020. And in Ivory Coast, the ministry of higher education requested assistance from World Physiotherapy to support the development of an MA programme.

Joseph Martial CAPO-CHICHI, former president of the Beninese Association of Physiotherapists and currently vice chair of the Africa region of World Physiotherapy, was involved in the SUDA project. He was a mentor for the Association of Physiotherapists of Mali. He believes the project has enabled better organisation of the professional organisations.

“It has also raised the level of physiotherapists through training in leadership, management and physiotherapy techniques,” he says. “All this has positively changed the visibility of the profession in these different countries, both at the level of the population and of the politico-administrative authorities. It also strengthened the ties between physiotherapists in each country.

“SUDA encouraged the establishment of a network of physiotherapists, including even countries which the project had not considered at the start. This network has strengthened and perpetuated exchanges between physiotherapists, which will help improve care for populations.”

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