The immediate past Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy (NSP) and Editor in-Chief of the National PhysioNews magazine, Mr UAC Okafor recently joined the body of scholars when he successfully defended his PhD thesis in Ergonomics /Industrial Physiotherapy at the College of Medicine University of Lagos in July, 2013.
A 1996 Physiotherapy graduate of the University of Lagos, Dr Okafor obtained his MSc in Anatomy in 2003 and PhD in Physiotherapy in 2013, all from the same University. His field of research which is " Return to driving after musculoskeletal disorders" culminated in the development of a novel clinical Index to assess and determine suitability of return to driving after musculoskeletal disorders, injury or surgery.This makes him the first Nigerian physiotherapist to obtain a PhD from any Nigerian University in the specialty field of Ergonomics/Industrial physiotherapy with core interest in road safety policy and regulation. He is also the first male to obtain a PhD in Physiotherapy from the Physiotherapy programme of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos.
Contributions to NSP: In the last decade ‘UAC’ or ‘Mr Packager’ as fondly called in the Nigerian Physiotherapy (NSP) family has played a visible and consistent role in the growth and re-branding of the Physiotherapy project in Nigeria and the WCPT Africa region. He had served as Assistant General Secretary of the NSP (2004-2008) ; Public Relations Officer and Editor in-chief of the National PhysioNews (2008-2012); Chairman Conferences and International Affairs Committee (2010-2011), Assistant Secretary of the NSP Committee on DPT and pioneer coordinator of the West Africa Physiotherapy Union (WAPU) since 2012. As the Public Relations Officer of the NSP, ‘UAC’ gave a lot of visibility to Physiotherapy as a brand through an unprecedented and aggressive Professional re-branding campaign which he tagged ‘The New Face of Physiotherapy’ which he led through major National Television, radio stations and the print media. He became a regular face on many Television channels preaching physiotherapy awareness and health promotion through lifestyle modification. This effort led to the official partnership and endorsement/ Award presented to Channels TV, Lagos at the NSP conference held in Calabar in 2008.
At the dawn of the 50th Anniversary of NSP held in Lagos in 2009, he played a very significant role which earned him the name of ‘Mr Packager’. He left no stone unturned at raising the media profile of Physiotherapy in Nigeria and the also the profile of NSP to the WCPT Headquarters. He also edited and produced a special publication ‘NSP at 50 Historical Brochure’ –a unique documentation of the history of Physiotherapy in Nigeria featuring all the past 13 indigenous chairmen and presidents of the NSP from inception in 1959.
WCPT/ WCPT Africa: Dr Okafor has also served as an official NSP delegate at the WCPT Africa Congresses at Tanzania 2006, Ghana 2010 and Kenya 2012 as well as NSP’s alternate voting delegate at the WCPTA Kenya 2012 and the WCPT World Congress in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2011, where he also served as the only black African Congress Volunteer. In December 2012, Dr UAC Okafor was appointed by the WCPT office as the only African member of a four-man Judging Panel for the WCPT 2012 Arts and Photo Competition.
Undergraduate Days: With a background as a youthful and passionate lover of the physiotherapy profession, he had served as Class governor, Vice President and later President of the University of Lagos Association of Physiotherapy Students, and interim National Secretary of the Nigeria Association of Physiotherapy Students (NAPS). Little wonder, he emerged one of the eight award winners (NYSC 1998 in Kwara state). Since graduation, he has continued to serve as staff adviser and patron to both the ULAPS and the National students body (NAPS).
University Roles: Since joining the services of the University of Lagos four years ago, Dr Okafor has served in some capacities and committees including (1) Member, Golden Jubilee Committee of the College of Medicine University of Lagos, (2) Staff Adviser of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences Students on University Debate 2013, (3) Staff Adviser, Physiotherapy Department Students Affairs, (4) Member Exams Committee, Physiotherapy Department among others. He has attended over 50 local and international conferences and workshops and presented papers in at least 21 of them, with over 15 peer-reviewed scientific publications in both local and international journals.
We congratulate our own Dr UAC Okafor on this achievement while wishing him more successes in the future.