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Open Access The practice of physical and rehabilitation medicine in Sub-Saharan Africa and Antarctica: A white paper or a black mark?

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Introduction: The medical specialty of physical and rehabilitation medicine has had a proven impact on people with disabilities and on healthcare systems. Documents such as the White Book on Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine in Europe have been important in defining the scope of practice within various regions. However, in some regions the practice has not been well defined.

Objective: To explore the practice of physical and rehabilitation medicine in Sub-Saharan Africa and Antarctica.

Methods: Medline searches, membership data searches, fax survey of medical schools, internet searches, and interviews with experts.

Results: The continents are dissimilar in terms of climate and government. However, both Antarctica and Sub-Saharan Africa have no physical and rehabilitation medicine training programs, no professional organizations, no specialty board requirements, and no practising physicians in the field. Since there are no known disabled children on Antarctica and adults are air-lifted to world-class healthcare, the consequences of this deficit are minimal there. However, the 788,000,000 permanent residents of Sub-Saharan Africa, including approximately 78 million people with disabilities, are left unserved.

Conclusion: Antarctica is doing fine, but Africa is in a crisis. Local medical schools, hospitals doctors, and people with disabilities, along with foreign volunteers, aid groups, and policy makers can have an impact on the crisis. However, governments, specifically national ministries of health, are ultimately responsible for the health and well-being of their citizens.

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Keywords: AFRICA; ANTARCTICA; GOVERNMENT POLICY; HEALTHCARE POLICY; PHYSIATRY; PHYSICAL AND REHABILITATION MEDICINE; REHABILITATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2009

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine is the international peer-reviewed journal published in English, with at least 10 issues published per year.

    Original articles, reviews, case reports, short communications, special reports and letters to the editor are published, as also are editorials and book reviews. The journal strives to provide its readers with a variety of topics including: functional assessment and intervention studies, clinical studies in various patient groups, methodology in physical and rehabilitation medicine, epidemiological studies on disabling conditions and reports on vocational and sociomedical aspects of rehabilitation.

    The journal is read by a wide group of healthcare professionals including specialists in rehabilitation medicine, neurology, clinical neurophysiology, general medicine, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers.

    Contributions from all parts of the world and from different professions in rehabilitation are welcome.

    ISI Impact Factor 2009: 1.882.

    Owned by Foundation of Rehabilitation Information.

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