Developing physiotherapy care for Gaza’s youngest generation

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)’s programmes work to not only meet immediate humanitarian needs by providing essential medicines and equipment, but also contribute to the long-term development of the health workforce needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of services. We help ensure that Gaza’s remarkable healthcare professionals not only have the resources they need, but also access to training and skills.

Physiotherapists in Gaza have limited opportunities for further training, as restrictions on movement imposed by the closure mean that many are prevented from travelling out to other areas of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) or abroad for professional development opportunities such as fellowships, trainings and conferences. This has often meant that physiotherapists are using outdated practices to treat their patients, which can lead to complications and reduce or delay the recovery of patients.

With physiotherapists often unable to get out of Gaza, MAP helps bring training opportunities in by supporting specialist physiotherapists from the UK to travel to the oPt to share their skills.

Advanced paediatric physiotherapy training in Gaza

This summer Sioned Davies, Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist at the Countess of Chester Hospital, and Colin Hamilton, Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist at Cambridge University Hospitals, joined MAP in Gaza to provide training to 32 local physios working with children and new-born babies. The Palestinian physiotherapists came from several organisations in Gaza, including the Ministry of Health, UNRWA, universities, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society and Al Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital. The course aimed to develop their techniques to assess and treat young patients requiring a range of physiotherapy services.

On their first day, the UK physios shadowed local paediatric physiotherapists at al Nasr Children’s Hospital in Gaza to get an understanding of their working environment and current knowledge and skills.

Reflecting on the day’s work, Sioned took to twitter to say:

Met some truly inspiring people who are so grateful for the training provided by MAP, aiming to improve local physiotherapy learning and knowledge.”

In the afternoon, training focused on developing the trainees’ ability to carry out developmental delay assessments on new-born babies. The training included a practical element, assessing two children to allow the local medics to problem-solve and discuss assessment and treatment pathways.

On the second day, the group discussed the current challenges to paediatric physiotherapy and received training on neonatal respiratory and developmental care techniques in the UK.

On the final day, the team developed their understanding of the surgical, medical and physiotherapy management of spasticity, a condition which causes certain muscles to continuously contract which can lead to stiffness or tightness in muscles and interfere with movement and speech.

The training helped the 32 physios to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the management of paediatric cases.

Writing on the week’s training Colin said:

“We are having a wonderful time. I think it is fair to say this has been one of the best weeks of our lives. The physios are the most wonderful people and fantastic physios. Wafa [MAP’s Programme Officer in Gaza] is an absolute credit to MAP. She is so welcoming and organised (as is the rest of the team). I am heartbroken to be leaving tomorrow. I will miss everyone so much.”

MAP would like to thank Sioned and Colin for their time and energy this summer, helping to develop physiotherapy care in Gaza.

If you would like to support MAP’s physiotherapy work in Gaza, please donate today.

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