WCPT Africa Region Conference System, 9th WCPT Africa Region Congress

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DPT or protecting professional autonomy: wither physiotherapy in Africa?
Efe Useh

Last modified: 2012-02-07


Purpose: This article explores the social context and the public trust in physiotherapy profession in Africa and analyzes professional autonomy in physiotherapy as a profession. The link between professional autonomy and its relationship with the other related profession was also investigated.

Methodology: Discourse analysis or the social deconstruction approach was used to understand social autonomy and the physiotherapy profession in Africa continent.

Result: It was revealed that professional autonomy is weakened and limited between physiotherapist and other members of the health team including those of the rehabilitation professions. There was over-whelming evidence in rationalization and de-professionalization amongst physiotherapists. There were varying levels of report on increased professional autonomy because of the reduced dominance of the medical profession. Threats from other rehabilitation professions who had infringed into the scope of practice of the physiotherapy practice were observed.


Physiotherapy needs to be visible at social and health policy levels and establish itself and be leaders in noninvasive interventions in health care. They should also meet the health needs of people who are experiencing disablement in order to maintain its individual autonomy. It is not clear how this would be achieved through the DPT programme.  The profession might require a complete reconstruction to remain relevant.

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