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Rehabilitation services essential for PWDs

There is a need for further capacity building in rehabilitation, embracing of technology for assistive devices, generation of local solutions and continuous professional development for new knowledge, said the Director of Health in Nairobi Metropolitan Services Fredrick Oluga.

Speaking during the official opening of National Rehabilitation Conference (NRC) at Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC), Oluga said improvement of social economic status of our society has exposed more people to all forms of injuries that has led to various impairments and disabilities.

“Twenty percent of disabilities are caused by mental health disorders and that’s why I challenge you that rehabilitation is not only for the people with disabilities but for all,” Oluga said.

He said it was not surprising to see a rise of the number of People Living With Disabilities by 163 percent in two decades hence the need of rehabilitation services for one in every five people.

Oluga noted that it is of great importance that people realize that lifestyles are predisposing people to non-communicable diseases and eventually different forms of disabilities.

The director challenged that there is a great need to focus on learning disabilities that may have been ignored for decades yet they form social outcomes of our society.

Oluga however said Kenya is proud to have trained rehabilitation professionals at a degree level back 2011 with several others graduating with master’s degree in physiotherapy on 26th November 2021.

He assured that NMS resources were going to be available to support researchers and innovators in their resolve to create local technology-based solutions.

“In addition, NMS synergies together with our universities including Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) are capable of mapping rehabilitation needs and services with a goal to optimize services delivery,” said Oluga.

Dr Pauline Kleinitz, a specialist in disability and rehabilitation working with World Health Organization (WHO) Rehabilitation Programme in Geneva, Switzerland, while giving her remarks virtually, said the need for rehabilitation is growing with 2.4 billion people experiencing health conditions that could benefit from rehabilitation.

“Going forward, health system strengthening is very important in rehabilitation and primary healthcare must be a key focus,” said Kleinitz.

She said government leadership and investment were crucial in rehabilitation adding that multi stakeholder rehabilitation coordination plays a very key role in the same.

Head of Global Action at the Institute of Rehabilitation in JAMK University of

Applied Sciences in Finland, Mr Murtonen Kari Pekka, in his remarks during the conference urged Kenyans to adopt digital rehabilitation.

“Digital rehabilitation is not only dependent on the professionals providing supporting services but also to the people,” he said. Pekka encouraged Kenyans to adapt the digital rehabilitation for it is always available, reduces transportation paralyses and also help in keeping people’s information private.

Rehabilitation services that improve people’s quality of life include; physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech- language and audiology therapy, orthopedic technology and mental health therapy.

NRC 2021 is the first conference on rehabilitation services in Kenya and is being held ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disability to be marked on Friday 3rd December 2021.

By Catherine Muindi and Faith Mukoma

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