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Demand for occupational therapists rises

The Kenya Occupational Therapists Association (KOTA) has raised concerns over the limited number of therapists serving in public health facilities.

KOTA President Evans Obaigwa has observed that some government hospitals lack therapists despite the high number of people with disabilities who need their services.

He said there is a need for both national and county governments to give occupational therapy much-needed attention so as to assist persons with disabilities in the community.

“Employed therapists in both public and private health facilities are very few compared to the number of people who need their services. It’s high time for the employment of adequate therapists in at least every facility to have one or two who can attend to people with disabilities.” He said.

Obaigwa spoke on Wednesday at Murang’a Level 5 Hospital, where KOTA held medical assessments for persons with disabilities and donated assistive devices to some of the disabled residents.

“Therapists work starts at a medical facility by assessing those affected, then they follow up on their medication, which sometimes forces them to transverse to villages and homes to help them,” he said.

“This indicates there is a need for the employment of more occupational therapists since some of our disabled people have remained at home without any medical attention,” he added.

The government, Obaigwa said, should also consider offering assistive space and equipment that occupational therapy uses to treat or address issues for people with disabilities.

“Occupational therapy clinics need special equipment that are used to treat patients, and the apparatus needs to be provided to make the treatment effective. I urge the government to allocate resources to acquiring equipment which generally not cheap,” he asserted.

Obaigwa observed that there are many people at homes who service occupational therapists, saying such patients only get attended to when various organisations hold free medical camps for persons with disabilities.

“Occupational therapists work in all levels of medical facilities. Even in dispensaries, it’s unfortunate that currently they are only found in a few hospitals, especially in level 5 facilities. By employing more therapists, the services will be offered to the lowest level of health facilities.” He noted.

Meanwhile, the KOTA president called for the government to avail funds to purchase and distribute assistive devices to the needy with disabilities.

He observed that some disabled people cannot even afford basic needs, and the cost of assistive devices like wheelchairs, among others, despite being exempted from some taxes, is not affordable to the majority of persons with disabilities.

“All levels of the government should work together with stakeholders who have an interest in the provision of the needed assistive devices to enable disabled persons to participate in their daily activities in the community,” he remarked.

During the event, more than 400 people were assessed and issued with various assistive devices donated by KOTA in support of other organizations, with Obaigwa saying the assessment will be done for a period of three days.

By Bernard Munyao

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