Therapists seek expansion of activities outside hospitals
The Occupational Therapists Association of Nigeria (OTAN) has advocated the expansion of its activities across all sectors in the country.
A statement by the National President of OTAN, Victoria Amu, in Benin City said the association has been urging a change in the trend, adding that there is a growing need for their services to be felt more outside the mainstream.
She lamented that the practice of Occupational Therapy (OT) had over the years, been restricted within the mainstream of hospitals, rehabilitation centres and special schools.
This, she said was due to the occurrence of natural disasters, activities of Boko Haram insurgency, activities of militants in the Niger Delta and the herdsmen in the different parts of the country.
She said: “Records show that OT was already integrated into the service of the University College Hospital, Ibadan and some hospitals in the western part of the country as early as the 1950s and 1960s. Yet, this long history does not seem to have been reflected in the growth of the profession in Nigeria, and in the West Africa sub-region at large until in recent time.
According to her, more than 85 per cent of the OT professionals are concentrated in the southwest geopolitical zone of the country, leaving the rest (five zones) with less than 15 per cent.
“The disparity may be because the only three educational institutions in the country are located in the southern part and that economic opportunities abound more in the major cities of the South, like Lagos and Port Harcourt.
She said the occupational therapy (OT) profession in Nigeria could best be described as developing when compared with other sister professions in the country’s health sector, such as physiotherapy and pharmacy.
She identified some of the challenges facing the practice to include: “Non-inclusion of OT in the nation’s scheme of service, Non-inclusion of OT into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and lack of uniform standard for the education of occupational therapists throughout the country.
Others are: “Inadequate employment of the few occupational therapists trained in the country, limited understanding of the role of the occupational therapists by the Chief Medical Directors and other policy-makers in the health industry.”