New WHO Wheelchair Training Package to be piloted in Western Cape | Western Cape Government


New WHO Wheelchair Training Package to be piloted in Western Cape

6 June 2016

The publication of wheelchair guidelines and a series of Wheelchair Service Training Packages (WSTP) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been a turning point in raising awareness and improving access to appropriate wheelchairs globally. There is however, a lack of trainers equipped to deliver the WSTP and so, a WHO Wheelchair Service Training of Trainers Package is now being developed in order to increase their impact. 

The Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project are coordinating the development of the package, with funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the second pilot which will take place from the 6th till the 10th of June 2016 at the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre in Cape Town. 

Jenny Hendry, CEO of the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre, says that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to providing a wheelchair and that incorrect prescription of a wheelchair has a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of the wheelchair user. “Incorrect allocation of a wheelchair causes great discomfort, inhibited mobility, pressure sores and poor posture. It is essential that health professionals prescribing mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, are knowledgeable and trained in order to ensure that the wheelchair user has long-term health and functional independence,” says Hendry.

According to event organiser, Margaret Lamiell, Project Specialist with the LMG Project, the event aims to further empower individuals who have undergone the WSTP training and who possess significant experience in wheelchair services, to become trainers of the WSTP modules in their respective regions and communities. 

“Because there is a lack of qualified WSTP trainers, it has become imperative to ensure that those who possess the experience and knowledge regarding the appropriate methods of wheelchair provision and service delivery are able to become trainers of the WSTP in their communities.

“This would ensure that those interested in receiving training on the WSTP are able to receive it from someone familiar with their mother tongue and in an environment they are accustomed to,” explains Lamiell.

There are more than 1 billion people living with disability globally, equating to about 15% of the world’s population or one in seven people. An estimated 1% of the world's population, or just over 65 million people, need a wheelchair.
“Each individual has his/her own unique needs for wheelchair and seat specifications. These specifications are dependent on the level of injury, range of mobility, and skin durability of the individual. Providing wheelchairs that are appropriate, well-designed and fitted not only enhances mobility, but also grants the user access to opportunities for education and employment, without experiencing major discomforts,” says Lamiell. 

The WCRC, now in operation for 11 years, provides specialised, multi-disciplinary rehabilitation programmes for persons with physical disabilities. The focus is outcome-based and promotes functional independence to ultimately achieve the goal of community-reintegration.

According to Lamiell, this is the reason the facility was selected as the location to host the training. “The WCRC is a leader in wheelchair services and training in the African region and was the location for the implementation of the WSTP - Intermediate in 2013,”

22 individuals will attend the training, representing 16 different countries around the world, including:  Albania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Romania, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Jordan and the USA. Observers and trainers from South Africa, USA, UK, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Canada will also be present.

“In many cases, the WSTP is the beginning of a mind shift in a country or region. Before attending a WSTP, participants may not understand why appropriate wheelchair service provision is important. However, after the training, participants understand how to provide a quality service, despite having limited resources. The biggest triumph of all is seeing how wheelchair users’ health is improved and maintained by the appropriate wheelchair and how the wheelchair users’ quality of life improves,” concludes Lamiell. 

The final WSTPt pilot will take place in Bangkok in September 2016

Media Enquiries: 

Media enquiries:

Bianca Carls 
Communications Officer: General Specialists and EMS Directorate
Western Cape Government: Department of Health
Landline:   021 918 1671
Mobile:      083 644 3383