Our attention has been drawn to some misconceptions which have arisen from a recent interview granted by the Hounorable Minister of Health on channels television program hard copy.
The minister claimed that the president's son did not go abroad for treatment but for rehabilitation thereby suggesting that rehabilitation was not a form or part of treatment.
We have been inundated with calls inquiring whether there are no qualified Physiotherapists in Nigeria who could have undertaken the Rehabilitation aspect of the management of the President's son after he was treated by Medical Doctors.
The NSP frowns at any deliberate attempt to undermine the contributions of the Physiotherapy profession to an holistic approach to management of health conditions especially orthopaedic and neurological conditions. We consider the Minister's response to the question by the anchor of the programme that Mr President's son had to go for rehabilitation abroad, when he was treated by Nigerian doctors as a tacit validation of allusions that other health professionals do not have the competence required to deliver quality health care- a position the NSP has always found ridiculous.
This press release seeks to correct this misconception portrayed to the general public and also to address a recurring attitude of some groups who maliciously belittle and demean other qualified medical professionals as being subjugate to and answerable to them, thus not able to function as independent specialists in their own fields.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in a published document, The International Standard Classification of Occupation (ISCO code 2264), defines and classifies PHYSIOTHERAPY as an INDEPENDENT PROFESSION.
The WHO clearly did not and would never refer to Physiotherapists as PARAMEDICAL STAFF, a point that must be emphasized. "Physiotherapists assess, plan and implement rehabilitation programs that improve or restore human motor functions, maximize movement abilities, relieve pain syndromes and treat or prevent physical challenges associated with injuries; diseases and other impairments. They apply a broad range of physical therapies and techniques such as movement, ultrasound, heating laser and other techniques. They may develop and implement programs for screening and prevention of common physical ailments and disorders"
The ISCO is a tool for organizing jobs into a clearly defined set of jobs,according to the tasks and duties undertaken in the job. Nigerian Physiotherapists exercise their professional judgement to reach a diagnosis that will direct their physiotherapy interventions/treatment, habilitation and rehabilitation of patients/clients/populations. Physiotherapists are skilled to provide care in several areas such as
- Elderly care
- Intensive care
- Mental Health
-Stroke services but to mention a few.
In Nigeria today, we have over 250 trained specialist Physiotherapists in Neurophysiotherapy (Neurological Physiotherapy) and over 500 specialist trained Orthopaedic Physiotherapists who would have conveniently carried out the President's son's post operative rehabilitation if they had been invited.
It must be emphasized that these areas of specializations were attained at the postgraduate level and are not the making of the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy but an internationally established path aimed at providing specialized management of health conditions. Indeed many hospital based physiotherapists across the country are doctor of physiotherapy degree holders(6 years DPT training).
An average physiotherapist's work is most physically demanding, with heavy case loads (especially as most Nigerian Health Institutions have shortfall of physiotherapists).
We encourage the Ministry of Health to provide logistic support for the employment of physiotherapists and give due recognition to the training of specialists in Physiotherapy across board.
National PRO NSP.