The World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT) has encouraged the development of regional groups in the demarcated WHO areas of the world.
To date there are 7 WFOT regional groups namely:
The concept of starting the group was conceived in 1995 but did not get off the ground.
In 1996 the idea was again revived at the WFOT Council Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates from Tanzania attended the meeting as observers to help promote the idea and the task was given to Rosemary Crouch, delegate from OTASA, South Africa, to convene the first meeting in South Africa later in the year.
The objectives of WFOT in developing this regional group were to:
- develop the services of occupational therapy in sub-Sahara Africa.
- encourage membership of African countries with WFOT.
- support the existing occupational therapy training centres in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa and assist in the emerging training in Tanzania and Mauritius.
- promote the development of training in more countries in Africa and keep the standards of occupational therapy training in line with the WFOT Minimum Standards of Training
10,000 US$ was provided by WFOT for delegates
from 9 countries to convene in Durban in August 1996, and at the same
time to attend the OTASA National Congress.
Delegates form Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe attended the inaugural meeting of OTARG. Justine Nanyonjo from Uganda was elected Chairperson; Jacqueline Laurent from Mauritius was Vice Chairperson, James Botela from Kenya as secretary and Rosemary Crouch and Ann Nott from South Africa as joint treasurers. Anticipated new members of OTARG were Nigeria, Namibia, Swaziland, Seychelles, Lesotho, Mali, Ethiopia, Zambia and Malawi.
OTARG Newsletter Launched
It was decided at the meeting to launch an OTARG Newsletter and Judith van der Veen from Tanzania undertook this task. It was also decided to plan the first OTARG Congress in Mauritius in 1999. Jacqueline Laurent (Mauritius) and Rosemary Crouch (South Africa) were appointed as Congress organisers. It was also asked that delegates consider the development of a logo for OTARG.
After the meeting in Durban, the OTARG delegates were taken on a tour of the Limpopo province by Marjorie Concha, previous OTASA delegate to WFOT, to visit the CBR Project at Acornhoek.
In the interim period before the first Congress, the development of the training of occupational therapists at Tumaini University at KCMC Moshi in Tanzania went ahead. In January 1997, occupational therapists involved in training, and Rosemary Crouch, now Chairperson of the WFOT Education Committee, was invited to Moshi in Tanzania by the DSE (German Foundation for International Development, promoters of education in Africa). The purpose was to develop a curriculum for occupational therapy training at KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College) in Moshi and to meet with the Minister of Education.
During a social evening at this event, TOTA (The Tanzanian Occupational Therapy Association) was born. It was officially agreed to by the Tanzanian Government in 2000.
Training in Tanzania
The training of occupational therapists in Tanzania started in October 1998 with Charles Bulinda Lirhunde from Kenya as HOD and pioneering occupational therapists in the country, namely Herma Grossman and Judith van der Veen, as lecturers. The first occupational therapists graduated in July 2001.
A visit by WFOT to the Ugandan Occupational Therapy training at Mulago Hospital in Kampala took place after the Council meeting in 1996 and the curriculum for training was discussed. The curricula for Uganda and Tanzania were both approved by WFOT in Ottawa 1998 and both countries became full members of WFOT.
OTARG delegates take the opportunity to meet at every opportunity and a meeting of OTARG was held during this time.
The Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania curricula had long since been approved and these countries had been full members of WFOT for many years.