Upgrading and Improving Physical Therapy Education in Ethiopia: Developing a Doctor of Physiotherapy Program

Purpose : Ethiopia is a country of over 91 million people located in the Horn of Africa and is the second most populous country in Africa. Ethiopia is known for the severe famines that ravaged the country in the 1980Õs. Though the famines have ended, poverty, malnutrition and limited access to health care continue to be prevalent in both urban and rural areas of the country. Living conditions for most Ethiopians are substandard with limited access to clean water and sanitation. In Ethiopia, prior to 2003, no physical therapy education program existed in the country. For this reason, there were only approximately 11 physical therapists serving a population of over 60 million people. However, since the development of the Bachelor of Physiotherapy program at the University of Gondar, in Ethiopia, the number of practicing therapists has significantly increased. By 2009, the University of Gondar had graduated approximately 216 bachelor-level physical therapists (an almost twenty-fold increase in the number of physical therapists in six years); yet, there is still only one therapist for an estimated 420,000 individuals in Ethiopia. Compared to the US, in 2010 there were an estimated 198,600 practicing physical therapists with a ratio of one therapist per 1,555 people.Description : Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, with assistance from multiple US organizations, established a transitional Doctor of Physiotherapy program in 2011 in order to advance the clinical skills of physical therapists in the country. Students in the program participate in a two-year program to earn a DPT degree and then continue their training in advanced clinical skills in order to serve as educators within the DPT program. Foreign volunteers are serving as guest instructors in the program in order to fill the need for highly trained teachers and physical therapists to provide education and mentoring.Summary of Use : One of the goals of the program in Ethiopia is to transition the physical therapy education system from a Bachelor of Physiotherapy to a Doctor of Physiotherapy over eight years. At the end of eight years, the ultimate goal of the program is to create the first all-African run Doctor of Physiotherapy program on the continent.Importance to Members: Physical therapy education in Africa, in general, and Ethiopia, specifically, has been very limited in the past; which has lead to severely limited access to physical therapy care. By investing time, financial resources, and educational materials in programs such as this, individuals will help advance the field of physical therapy worldwide. Advancing programs like this, improves the knowledge base of physical therapists in developing countries and increases the overall number of physical therapists providing care in significantly underserved areas. This, in turn, increases access to high quality care and decreases the rate of disability in the local populations.

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  • Control #: 1724557
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Jennifer J. Bell, Jean-Michel Brismee, Greg Dedrick, Gail Apte
  • Keywords: Education|Physical Therapy Education|International Education

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