Identifying Rehabilitation Workforce Strengths, Concerns and Needs: A Case Study from the Pacific Islands

Alexandra Lewis Gargett, Gwynnyth Llewellyn, Stephanie Short, Pauline Kleinitz


Purpose: This exploratory case study was undertaken to inform capacity development of the rehabilitation workforce in member nations of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

Method: Participants at the 1st Pacific CBR Forum in June 2012 were key informants for this study. They comprised the disability focal points from government departments in each of the 14 countries, representatives of DPOs and disability service providers. The study was conducted in 3 phases:  a template to gather data on rehabilitation workers; key informant interviews; and, stakeholder workshops to identify strengths and needs of the rehabilitation workforce in the Pacific.

Results: The detailed case study findings suggest two critical drivers for rehabilitation health workforce development in the Pacific context. The first is leadership and commitment from government to serve rehabilitation needs in the community. The second is the urgent need to find alternative ways to service the demand for rehabilitation services as it is highly unlikely that the supply of specialist personnel will be adequate.

Conclusions: A multi-sectoral view of health and social service systems is a key element for the development of a rehabilitation health workforce. The endorsement of the WHO Global Disability Action Plan by the World Health Assembly in 2014 further enhances the opportunity to work collaboratively across sectors in Pacific countries. Specialist personnel are and will remain in short supply. There is opportunity for the region to lead the development of alternate workforce mechanisms through the training and supply of skilled community-based rehabilitation personnel.


Community-based rehabilitation; health workforce development; disability; international development

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