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Communication rehabilitation in sub-Saharan Africa: A workforce profile of speech and language therapists.

Wylie, K and McAllister, L and Davidson, B and Marshall, J (2016) Communication rehabilitation in sub-Saharan Africa: A workforce profile of speech and language therapists. African Journal of Disability, 5 (1). ISSN 2223-9170

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: There is an urgent global need to strengthen rehabilitation services for people with disabilities. In sub-Saharan Africa, rehabilitation services for people with communication disabilities continue to be underdeveloped. A first step in strengthening services for people with a communication disabilities is to understand the composition and conditions of the current workforce. OBJECTIVES: This research describes a sample of the speech and language therapists (SLTs) working in SSA (excluding South Africa). This study explores the characteristics of this workforce, including their demographics, education, experience and geographical stability. METHOD: A mixed-methods survey was used to collect data from SLTs within Anglophone countries of SSA. Completed surveys were received from 33 respondents working in 44 jobs across nine countries. Analysis included descriptive and non-parametric inferential statistics. This study reports on a subset of descriptive and quantitative data from the wider survey. RESULTS: A background profile of SLTs across the region is presented. Results indicated that the workforce of SLTs comprised a mix of local and international SLTs, with university-level education. Local SLTs were educated both within and outside of Africa, with more recent graduates trained in Africa. These data reflected the local emergence of speech and language therapy training in SSA. CONCLUSION: This sample comprised a mix of African and international SLTs, with indications of growing localisation of the workforce. Workforce localisation offers potential advantages of linguistic diversity and stability. Challenges including workforce support and developing culturally and contextually relevant SLT practices are discussed.

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