My Esteemed Seniors and Colleagues,

I want to use this medium to felicitate and congratulate the Nigerian Physiotherapy population on such a day as this: World Physiotherapy Day, which is a day set aside to recognize and celebrate the profession of physiotherapy globally. The Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy which is an embodiment of all Physiotherapists in Nigeria is a member state of the World Physiotherapy and a foremost member of the World Physiotherapy Africa Region. The NSP projects the highest possible standard of professionalism in the discharge of culturally appropriate healthcare provided in an atmosphere of trust and respect for human dignity and this is determinedby sound clinical reasoning coupled with evidence-based knowledge. It is on these basic principles, the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy, through one of her numerous organs, the NSP COVID-19 Taskforce has collaborated with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to forge a formidable alliance in tackling this protracted global scourge called“COVID-19”. It is important to salute and recognize the sacrifices of Physiotherapists who contracted COVID-19 while treating their patients, while in isolation; they helped themselves and other patients by incorporating physiotherapy into their management.

This year’s theme and that of last year reflects the peculiarity of this trying time we live in. In 2020 the theme was focused on Rehabilitation and Covid-19 and this year’s theme is very much similar, “Rehabilitation and Long Covid”. It is pertinentto highlight that our profession is uniquely positioned to step up and tackle the health challenges posed by COVID-19 so asto help our most vulnerable people regain independence and optimise their quality of life. For a number of post-COVID survivors, the virus can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the active infection are abated. This invariably results into post-COVID-19 syndrome or long COVID. Three major symptoms described by the World Health Organisation are dyspnoea, cognitive dysfunction called brain fog and fatigue. Other symptoms noticed include persistent headaches, chest pain, muscle and joint ache, anxiety and depression. Physiotherapists have a major role to play in getting our patients to their pre-COVID status by employing the use of many of our numerous exercise techniques such as: Airway clearance techniques, diaphragmatic breathing technique, progressive resistance training and aerobic exercises just to mention a few. With an appropriate level of professionalismand empathy, we all can rehabilitate our patients back to their optimal selves.

Furthermore, as we celebrate this year’s World Physiotherapy Day, it is imperative to recognise the many feats and achievements we have been able to record in our 62 years of existence while placing more emphasis on what the present National Executive Council (NEC) members have been able to achieve within a period of 10 months:

- The adoption of “Doctor of Physiotherapy Programme”by a number of Universities in Nigeria.

- The most successful combined specialty sessions with over 700 Physiotherapists in attendance and this has spurred our specialty groups to become more vibrant than ever.

- Training of our members on basic and advanced post-COVID treatment and rehabilitation through the NSP COVID Taskforce.

- The Strengthening of the Nwuga’s Foundation.

- The continuous undeniable efforts to make NSP a viable organisation where young professionals can thrive and flourish with our youth-centred programmes and in collaboration with several countries though their embassies.

- The assiduous efforts put towards ensuring the fruition of the Physiotherapy Residency Training Programme and the Physiotherapy Postgraduate College (both National and the West African Colleges)

- The Unity mandate soon to be delivered will be highly based on your support and prayers as negotiations and talks are ongoing to make the acrimony and division that has plagued us of late, become a thing of the past.

- The constant push and engagement with the necessary and relevant Government agencies towards the implementation of the Specialist/Consultant cadre for Physiotherapists.

- The harmonious and synchronous work currently going onwith the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists Board of Nigeria on the issue of internship central placement andthe fight to vehemently combat ‘quackery’ in the profession.

- The courtesy visits to relevant stakeholders which is causing positive ripple effects. Special credit goes to Akwa Ibom and Kwara states.

- Through our massive publicity campaign, employing the various social media tools and the print media, we are determined to maintain and improve our visibility and societal perception amongst the Nigeria population and beyond.

We encourage all well meaning Physiotherapists to join us in following through with this noble cause of bringing the profession of physiotherapy to the apogee in Nigeria and the world at large. With your support and prayers, there is no limit to what we can achieve together.

My speech will not be complete if I do not mention the importance of protecting ourselves in this fight against COVID-19. Please, let us not take the personal responsibility of protecting ourselves alone but also strive to protect ourfamily members, colleagues and patients from contacting this virus. I implore you all to take the vaccine, always wear your face mask, avoid crowded places, exercise regularly and take prophylactic measures to boost your immunity.

Once again, on behalf of the 17th National Executive Council of the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy, I wish you a memorable “World Physiotherapy Day”. May we all remain iNSPired, thank you!

Long live Physiotherapy

Long live Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Dr. Nnenna Olajumoke Salamatu Chigbo, PT

President, NSP