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The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) recently invited Motivation to run a workshop on the inclusion of wheelchair users in disaster preparedness and emergency response at their 6th Asia Pacific Occupational Therapy Congress. WFOT advocate that Occupational Therapists should be involved in all stages of planning and preparation for disaster management, as well as post-disaster response.

We particularly wanted to be engaged in disaster preparedness discussions in Asia and Pacific regions as it’s estimated that the region suffers up to 50 per cent of the world’s major natural disasters (ESCAP, State of the Environment in Asia and the Pacific 1995a). Many Asia Pacific countries are located in the world’s hazard belts and are subject to floods, drought, cyclones, earthquakes and tidal waves. During the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction Countries a UN report found that those living in the region were four times more likely to be affected by natural catastrophe than those in Africa, and that they were 25 times more vulnerable than Europeans or North Americans, see the data here.


Lauren at WFOT congress

Senior Clinical Coordinator Lauren Flaherty from our sister organisation, Motivation Australia, travelled to New Zealand to run the workshop. The focus was on the way trained service providers can modify the way they provide wheelchairs in a conflict or disaster related emergency situation, and Lauren introduced them to Motivation’s emergency response package.

The workshop was attended by six participants, representing four countries; New Zealand,
Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. Although the group was small, the workshop was very active and feedback from participants was positive:

“It was an inspiration. [After a disaster] you want to help but you don’t know how. So linking in with people like you is the best way to go – linking rather than trying to re-invent the wheel is important”

“This workshop has really raised my awareness about what is possible – and available!”

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