Save the Physiotherapy Profession in India sign now

This is a petition to draw the attention of those responsible for administration and framing of the regulations for professions in India. We would like to draw your attention to the appalling conditions of the physiotherapists in India.
Today, Physiotherapists, who form a vital part of the multi disciplinary team anywhere else in the world, are struggling for mere survival in India.
Physiotherapy has been defined as a health care profession concerned with human function and movement and maximising potential. It uses physical approaches to promote, maintain and restore physical, psychological and social well-being, taking account of variations in health status. It is science-based, committed to extending, applying, evaluating and reviewing the evidence that underpins and informs its practice and delivery. The exercise of clinical judgement and informed interpretation is at its core. (Curriculum framework for qualifying programmes in physiotherapy, CSP UK, 2002).
Physiotherapists work as autonomous practitioners, responsible for the assessment, evaluation and management of the psychological, cultural, social and environmental factors and the impact these have on individuals functional ability. They work in the areas of musculoskeletal, neurological, cardio respiratory, sports, womens health, paediatrics and geriatric rehabilitation. There has been an increasing body of evidence as to the effectiveness of physiotherapy as a useful public health measure in promoting health and awareness of society. The role of physiotherapists in developed countries health policy and management is ever increasing and autonomous, where they play an important part in providing quality services to the patients.

The physiotherapy education standards in India have been dipping, resulting from mushrooming of private institutes, which have been given approval by Indian Association of Physiotherapists or other such nongovernmental professional bodies. These institutes focus in quantity of students enrolling than on the quality of education. In addition, while still there is a debate about the current identification of physiotherapists as either a medical profession or a profession allied to medicine, these institutes promise the young college pass outs as becoming a doctor and great salaries, which is clearly misleading. The institutes have also been supported by the universities which award the final degrees. This brings the issue to Govt. Responsibility in the matter as universities are primarily regulated and covered by various educational laws. There is clearly a need for improving the quality of education delivered in physiotherapy qualification programs as well as in the post graduation degrees to help shape better professionals who can take the lead in their work and provide quality service to the patients, thus playing the vital role of pre- and rehabilitation. There is no predefined Govt. framework of educational criteria for qualification as a physiotherapist.
The salaries of physiotherapists are likewise touching a new low everyday. After toiling for four and a half years, studying all the medical subjects to various levels and the physiotherapeutic subjects additionally, the starting salary of a physiotherapist is as low as 5200-20200 INR (minimum qualification degree in physiotherapy after 10+2 science) (refer advertisement for 1 post of junior physiotherapist PGI Chandigarh 15th June 2009), which is comparable to an operation theratre assistant (minimum qualification one year diploma in operation techniques after matric). The grade even for junior technicians in radiotherapy, radiology, ophthalmology is 9300-34800 INR (minimum qualification degree in respective technology after 10+2).
The salaries of those employed in private practice are even lower and considering the rising unemployment due to higher number of physiotherapists qualifying every year, this trend will continue even in future. This has led to brain drain, where the youth are now migrating to western countries immediately after graduation in search of careers, where the profession is respected and valued and of course, much better paid. In US, for example, the average national salary is $44,909, while the base median salary for a physiotherapist is $ 70,536. In India, even the post graduates are being exploited because of unemployment and forced to work for meagre salaries because of lack of jobs. This has led to depression and negative attitude towards the profession and many professionals have been forced to change careers.
Another appalling fact is the lack of posts of physiotherapists in the Govt. hospitals. The role that physiotherapy plays is unquestionable, this leads to an issue of the recognition of the value of physiotherapy by the Indian public health authorities.
Therefore, we appeal that the conditions of physiotherapists be looked into adequately by the concerned authorities. We as citizens of Indian republic have a right to live respectfully and earn our due without discrimination and injustice.
Specifically, we appeal for -
1. A proper definition of physiotherapy, which is in equivalence to the role of physiotherapy in public health system in India and worldwide.
2. Standardization of physiotherapy education in India, including control over mushrooming of unrecognised institutes.
3. Regulation of the professional standards through a Physiotherapy Council, which should be enforced in consultation with the current evidence base for effectiveness of physiotherapy interventions.
4. Pay scales equivalent to other medical graduates including MBBS, BDS and BAMS.
5. Creation of physiotherapy posts in each govt hospital to provide employment to the fresh graduates.
We believe, that in the interest of protecting the Indian public health system, this matter would be looked into urgently and necessary actions undertaken to save the physiotherapy profession in India.

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Cassie AndradeBy:
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Petition target:
The Honourable President of India, The Honourable Prime Minister of India, Health Education Minister of India and Education Bodies of the States of India.

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