Physiotherapy is a health care profession which provides services to individuals and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout their life span. This includes but is not limited to the provision of services in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, disease or environmental factors.
In WHO’s disability report (2011), it has been noted that in the years ahead, disability will be a greater concern because its prevalence is on the rise due to higher risks of disability in older people (population aging) as well as the reported global increase in chronic health conditions (Non-Communicable Diseases-NCDs) such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health disorders. Zambia, in this case is no exception especially that the prevalence of disability is on the increase also due to increased numbers of Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs), industrial and chemical accidents, malnutrition, HIV and AIDS.
There is atypical presentation of disease and disease patterns which require a timely, swift and relevant response in their management based on best practices supported by evidence based practice. These challenges have necessitated the need to review the physiotherapy curriculum so that it responds by training Physiotherapists who are ready to skillfully address the health care needs of the people of this great nation. The need to equip graduates with the necessary skills to cope with the expanding role of physiotherapy in the continually-changing health care delivery system need not be emphasized and this is in line with the University’s strategic plan
The Bachelor Of Physiotherapy Degree programme at the University of Zambia, School Of Medicine, was launched in 2001 together with degree programmes in Biomedical sciences and Pharmacy. This was the first degree programme in physiotherapy to be introduced in Zambia. Previously, the School of medicine was only offering two degree programmes,i.e; Medicine and Nursing. The introduction of the programme was necessitated by the need for the country to have improved physiotherapy services via evidence-based practice. The Zambia Society for Physiotherapists (ZSP) in keeping with the recommendations made by the World Confederation of Physiotherapists (WCPT) that member countries must encourage professional development through further training impressed upon the government that the diploma qualification offered by Evelyn hone was no longer adequate to cater for the cocktail of ailments that were manifesting the world over due to HIV and its associated complications, The ZSP in conjuction with WCPT under the auspices of UNZA school of Medicine was then tasked to develop a curriculum that would address the health challenges in the new millennium. After widely consulting other universities offering physiotherapy degree programmes, a curriculum was developed and the Bachelor of Physiotherapy degree was born.
Career Prospects (As outlined by WCPT)
Physical therapy is an essential part of the health and community/welfare services delivery systems. Physical therapists practice independently of other health care/service providers and also within interdisciplinary rehabilitation/habilitation programmes that aim to prevent movement disorders or maintain/restore optimal function and quality of life in individuals with movement disorders. Physical therapists practice in a wide variety of settings.
Prevention, health promotion, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation take place in multiple settings that may include, but are not confined to the following:
• community based rehabilitation programmes
• community settings including primary health care centres, individual homes, and field settings
• education and research centres
• fitness clubs, health clubs, gymnasia and spas
• nursing homes
• occupational health centres
• out-patient clinics
• physical therapist private offices, practices, clinics
• public settings (eg shopping malls) for health promotion
• rehabilitation centres and residential homes
• schools, including pre-schools and special schools
• senior citizen centres
• sports centres/clubs