The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at UoG organized a week dedicated to the country’s first Occupational Therapy work force. The week celebrated the Association’s first Assembly and also got a chance to organize and work towards a sensitization workshop. Those who took part in the multiple day events included Dr. Molalign Belay Co-Diretor Scholars Program at UoG, Dr. Ashenafi Tazebew, CEO of the University’s Comprehensive Specialized Hospital, Dr. Meseret Kassie, Part B Manager of the Scholars Program at UoG, occupational therapists from around the world and University of Gondar OT specialist. Some of the agendas that were planned for the week included discussions about occupational therapy’s place in Ethiopia, both now and in the future, sensitization workshops with important stakeholders from the ministries of health and education, as well as from civil society and professional associations.
For all worthwhile plans to take hold and demonstrate reasonable changes planning is key. In line with this, the Ethiopian Occupational Therapists Association’s first assembly also featured strategic planning with important stakeholders. Results include an emphasis on workforce development, relationships with Ministries, and advocacy for the field and people with disabilities.
Occupational therapy is a profession within healthcare. It is the use of assessment and intervention to develop, recover, or maintain the meaningful activities, or occupations, of individuals, groups, or communities. Occupational Therapy is a rehabilitation science that is fairly new to the country of Ethiopia. Before 2020, in the whole nation, there were less the four trained occupational therapist and within this low number there were no degree holders in the field.
Site visits to the new National Centre for Rehabilitation and the Leonard Cheshire service in Addis Abeba aided in the formation of collaborations for student placements. The founders of the assocition and pioneer faculty of the occupational therapy programme leading the way in Ethiopia Zelalem Dessalegn, Yohannes Awoke, Haben Niguse and Rediet Getachew all were present for the milestone event.
The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) began with formal discussions at a meeting of occupational therapists held in England in June 1951, at which there were 28 representatives from various countries. The Constitution was developed at the 1952 meeting and contained the following initial objectives: to act as the official international organization for the promotion of occupational therapy; to promote international cooperation among occupational therapy associations, therapists, and other allied professional groups; to advance the practice and standards of occupational therapy and to help maintain the ethics and to advance the interests of the profession among others.