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WFOT's Position on Global Health: Informing Occupational Therapy Practice

Updated: Nov 25, 2022


Read the WFOT's full statement here: Global Health: Informing Occupational Therapy Practice

The WFOT's position statement on "Global Health: Informing Occupational Therapy Practice" explores the application and the relevance of global health to the profession of occupational therapy.

🌍WFOT's Position on Global Health and OT

Global health aims to improve and achieve equity in health for all worldwide. Global health places an emphasis on:

  • Transnational health issues

  • Health determinants

  • Solutions

  • A multi-disciplinary approach from within and beyond health sciences

  • Promotion of inter-disciplinary collaboration

  • Synthesis of population-based prevention with individual-level clinical care

Occupational Therapists must:

  • Be proactive

  • Utilize the unique OT skillset

  • Collaborate with other organizations and individuals

Occupational therapists contribute to global health by enabling the right to engage in meaningful and purposeful occupations.

The concept of global health should be central to

occupational therapy practice, education and research.

🌎Global health Issues relevant to OT:

  • Non-communicable disesases

  • Infectious diseases

  • Rehabilitation needs following traumatic life changes

  • Chronic conditions

  • Mental health

  • Enhancing life during old age

🌏To improve and achieve equitable health aims around the globe, it is critical that sustainable partnerships are forged.


Central partnerships that support the world's ability to address global health issues

  1. Between the WHO and International organizations

  2. Partnerships between global to local, between agencies with public and private sector donors

  3. Partnerships between WHO and national and local health authorities

  4. partnerships between individuals and local groups in addressing their own health and welfare

  5. Partnerships between NGOs and community organizations


  • Adapting techniques used in other countries to fit different local contexts

  • Overcoming the top-down approach to rehab met in multiple locations


Partnership building

  • Engage in partnerships with other disciplines and international organizations, evolve networks,

  • Advocate for free access to healthcare

  • Work with NGOs and local community capacity builders to ensure clean water, safe housing, education and meaningful community engagement

"As occupational therapy becomes more established, recognized and valued

within the international community, we can become true partners in world-changing

initiatives related to regions dealing with the aftermath of war, social upheaval and revolution."

- WFOT POSITION STATEMENT Global Health: Informing Occupational Therapy Practice


  • Global health needs and priorities must be available for OTs worldwide

  • Increase awareness about the skill set OTs can provide in developing nations and communities.


  • OT Education Programs should increase education on global health issues, the potential roles OTs can play,


  • Creation of research partnerships to enable OTs to be investigators in inter-professional research teams.

  • Exploring the most effective OT contributions to address issues of global health.


Through the increase of technology and communication methods, the emergence of a much smaller world has many implications. For the health and well-being of the world’s population, those implications can offer hope in the shape of multinational involvement of expertise and skill working with local experts and conditions. The current climate facing health professionals is one in which occupational therapy can play a major role through the enablement of and engagement in chosen and necessary occupations, participation in communities and the creation of more meaningful lives. The establishment of networks allows previous experiences and knowledge to be retained and built upon. These networks become repositories of knowledge, skills, applications and achievements.


Whats next?

Good health and well-being as a sustainable development goal(SDG) of the United Nations, aims to “Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.”

All the other 16 goals are either directly or indirectly related to health and well-being.

According to the United Nations world is behind and off track in achieving this SDG with poor countries 31 years behind developed countries in meeting health needs with exacerbation in the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is imperative that global health challenges be included in OT curriculum and that therapists to be more involved in interprofessional research.

  • Professional development resources to learn more about global health

What can you do?


Thank you for reading! We are always looking for new perspectives and stories to share. If you want to support our mission, share your stories and resources by contacting us.



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