Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, immediate past Director- General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has called on Government to make occupational therapy a priority in the country’s health sector.
He urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the GHS to place a premium on occupational therapy to improve health care in the country. Dr Appiah-Denkyira was speaking at the opening session of the 10th Conference of Occupational Therapists Association Africa Regional Group (OTARG) in Accra.
The three-day conference which is being held under the theme: “Occupational Therapist in Africa: Changing Lives Positively” brought together occupational therapist across the continent and other parts of the world.
He said there was the need to have a good blend of predictable medical practice with the services of occupational therapists to enhance the functionality of patients and integrate persons with special needs into the society.
Dr Appiah-Denkyira made a passionate appeal to MOH to employ occupational therapy professionals who have completed their courses and internships and yet to be employed, adding that, “there are about 30 occupational therapist who can be employed to begin their professional services”.
“Even if it is not possible to give them immediate employment, there should be a system in place to create departments at the various hospitals so they will get value for their worth,” he said. Mr Peter Owusu Ndaa, the President of OTARG Ghana, said the association would work with government in key areas to advance standard practices of occupational therapy in the country, especially with mental health persons and persons with disability.
He said there is the need for health institutions to develop their curriculum to respond to the needs for occupational therapy in the country. Dr Samuel Kaba, the Director of the Institutional Care Division of the GHS, said the service would take steps to seek financial clearance to absorb occupational therapy professionals as the need for their services was increasingly needed in the delivery of healthcare.
“As a country, we have no option but to develop occupational therapy and mainstream it into our healthcare system in a manner that will enhance the rehabilitation of patients,” he said. Occupational therapists are allied health professionals who assist disfunctional people who due to natural congenital defects in life help their clients to be able to carry out their day-to-day activities irrespective of the state of disability or medical condition they find themselves.