An Inside Look at the Guyana Physiotherapy Association
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President of the Guyana Physiotherapy Association, Isha Urlin
President of the Guyana Physiotherapy Association, Isha Urlin

THE Guyana Physiotherapy Association (GPA) is a professional body that provides support and representation to physiotherapists practising in Guyana.
This agency began its operation in Guyana some 40 plus years ago.

The Pepperpot Magazine recently sat down with President of the Association, Isha Urlin, to get an inside perspective on how the association functions and how someone can join the association.
“ Persons who would have [sic] completed and graduated from an entry level BSc Physiotherapy training programme of a recognised university and are registered with the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) – which is the national regulatory body for the registration of all allied health professions and their professionals to practise in Guyana- [can join the association],” Urlin told the Pepperpot Magazine.

She further noted that the GPA has an executive of seven members and four sub-committees (Continuing Education; Fundraising; Advocacy & Health Promotion; Professional Development & Mentorship).
The Association meets on a quarterly basis and organises training and other activities towards the further development of its members.

Additionally, it was noted that the GPA in its close relationship with the Ministry of Health, has initiated and is still very much involved in several projects over the years.
Urlin mentioned the fact that the association is associated with two international bodies.

“The GPA is affiliated to the World Confederation on Physiotherapy (WCPT) and a member of the North American Regional Caribbean (NACR) arm of the world body. Actually, on the 8th of September, the GPA joined with the other physiotherapists around the world to celebrate ‘World Physiotherapy Day’,” she explained. “The theme for the year is ‘Long COVID and Rehabilitation.’ Activities will be done to highlight the significant role of physiotherapists in the rehabilitation of persons that were infected with COVID-19, not only during the period of infection but after. Since, there are lots of residual physical effects to the functioning of major systems and organs associated. For example, the respiratory system and the lungs, the cardiovascular system and the heart and such like.

A career in physiotherapy
Urlin explained that a person can become a physiotherapist via a period of study of entry-level physiotherapy at a recognised university. For example, right here at the University of Guyana, via the Health Sciences Faculty in the College of Medicine persons, who have attained the university requirements of five subjects with emphasis on science subjects along with Maths and English, can apply to the Medical Rehabilitation Programme, which comprises three disciplines (Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy and Speech/language therapy & Audiology) and then focus on their major in their third year of study. They can then graduate after the completion of their year and pass the Competency Proficiency Exam.

Persons after this course of study can go on to upgrade by doing post-graduate studies- a Master’s and then the doctorate in a specialised area.
According to Urlin, the Guyana Physiotherapy Association has impacted health care in Guyana, particularly under the heading of rehabilitation services.

She noted the areas that the association has been impactful in, these include: Creating opportunities for continuing education of its members (physiotherapists), both professionally and personally; Advocating and promoted efforts towards the establishment of a legislative body – the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC). This body is responsible for the registration and licensing of not only physiotherapists, but all other allied health professions to be protected under the laws of Guyana, in their practice; promoting efforts to encourage physiotherapists to perform at the highest level with high ethical standards; Supporting the establishment of training physiotherapists at the University of Guyana and participating in the international body – World Confederation of Physical Therapists (WCPT) and is a part of the North American Regional Caribbean grouping of that body.

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