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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 83-84

COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring opportunities to combat the challenges

Director and Consultant, Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation, Rehabcare, Lucknow; Director, Deenbandhu Rehabilitation Center, Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India; President, The All India Occupational Therapists' Association; Executive Chairman/Editor-in-Chief, The Indian Journal of Occupational Therapy; Executive Chairman, The Academic Council of Occupational Therapy; WFOT Delegate

Date of Submission26-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance26-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication23-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
Anil Kumar Srivastava
93, Laxmanpuri, Faizabad Road, Lucknow - 226 016, Uttar Pradesh, India.

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijoth.ijoth_39_20

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How to cite this article:
Srivastava AK. COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring opportunities to combat the challenges. Indian J Occup Ther 2020;52:83-4

How to cite this URL:
Srivastava AK. COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring opportunities to combat the challenges. Indian J Occup Ther [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Feb 6];52:83-4. Available from: http://www.ijotonweb.org/text.asp?2020/52/3/83/298985

The global health emergency unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic disturbed our psyche with fear and uncertainties. The situation is getting worse in the country as thousands of individuals getting tested positive everyday. India currently has the largest number of confirmed cases in Asia and has the second highest in the world after the USA.[1] The All India Occupational Therapists' Association (AIOTA) responded early to this pandemic by issuing advisories and e-learning training modules on protection, practice, and education to protect the interest of the profession and occupational therapy (OT) professionals. The AIOTA has come up with feasible solutions and guidelines during such crisis situations or as and when will be required in future also. Turning crisis into an opportunity is the call of today's corona times. Despite the challenges, the pandemic has offered us an opportunity to showcase the valued contribution of OT in government and other sectors.

The AIOTA partnered with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, in its program called “Corona Warriors” which aims to establish a database of nationwide frontline workers. A total of 430 OT volunteers from across the country are listed as COVID warriors.[2] The National OT Association recognizes the need to quickly adapt to the changing scenario by modifying our methods of service delivery and redesigning our practice setups and modes of intervention according to the principles of infection control and social/physical distancing during the corona times.

During any crisis situation, the psycho-social well-being of individuals is affected the most. Considering the need for this, the Government of India has included OT services among the list of services being provided via a single-point national helpline number. On July 25, the government released a national free-to-call helpline number 1800117776 on information related to autism disorders and 1800-572-6422 for mental health issues with inclusion of OT as one of the key service areas.[3]

The virtual platform has proved to be the best possible mode of interaction as of now. It is being frequently used for AIOTA meetings, academic interactions, and ongoing webinars by professional experts. The Academic Council of Occupational Therapy has also circulated information to members and faculties all across the country to come up with proposals for short courses, academic deliberations, and seminars by virtual mode on select topics of professional as well as public interest to continue updating the knowledge and skills of OT professionals and students throughout the corona times. The AIOTA has also decided organizing its 58th Annual National Conference OTICON'2021 virtually in March 2021 with the theme “Responding to Challenges in Pandemic: Exploring the New Horizons of Occupational Therapy.” It would be the first-ever virtual national conference of the association.

The AIOTA has also launched COVID-19 e-learning modules for professionals and the public, on medical and psycho-social issues being faced by the persons of all age groups, including those with dysfunctions and disabilities, during long stay in home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus chain. The pandemic has provided us an opportunity to establish a framework of readiness and strengthen our preparedness for future responses.

The Academic Council of Occupational Therapy realized this aspect of great significance and developed a “Smart Clinical Occupational Therapy Educational Plan” during the COVID-19 lockdown. It aimed to create various platforms of e-learning, modes of instructions, and ways of preparation to ensure that educational goals for OT students do not suffer in such circumstances in future that prevent direct access to academic institutions and clinical training setups.[4] All the heads of the OT education program in the country are advised to connect with their students through this “Smart Clinical OT Education Program” and technology, thereby restoring the educational rhythm among the students too.

The AIOTA is the founder member organization of the Indian Council of Healthcare Accreditation (ICHA) since its inception in 2004. The Council launched its ICHA-MITRA project to help the corona warriors – from fear to care. It aims to generate a city-wise and region-wise database of volunteers/nodal coordinators who would be able to render help to any corona warrior seeking help and support. The AIOTA is working along with the ICHA to ensure the greatest needs of frontline health-care workers, which include access to care, financial support, proper nourishment, and physical activity.[5] ICHA MITRA Banner with the information link is made available on the AIOTA website for information to OT corona warriors.

The COVID pandemic has provided us an opportunity to strengthen the AIOTA's disaster response mechanism in future crisis situations and also to showcase OT services as an integral part of the country's disaster relief teams. We have to embrace the new paradigm shift toward the virtual platforms and further develop our educational methods, clinical responses, and service delivery methods to adjust to this new normal.

The AIOTA is pleased to inform the members and OT professionals of the country that the Ministry of Health, Government of India, has introduced the much-awaited National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill 2020 in the Parliament on September 15, 2020. Unfortunately, the Parliament adjourned sine die 7 days earlier, amid concerns of the spread of coronavirus among the members of the Parliament; hence, the Bill could not be passed for an enactment in this session. It will be tabled in the next session of the Parliament for seeking clearance from both the houses for an enactment. Though it is further delayed due to COVID, we are confident of a positive outcome with respect to the status and growth of OT profession in the country.

The World OT Day-2020 and AIOTA's OT India Month will begin from October 27 (the World OT Day) to November 26, 2020. The theme chosen for this year's World OT Day by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) is “REIMAGINE DOING.” The celebration report will appear in AIOTA/WFOT newsletters. The members are hereby requested to celebrate the World OT Day and OT India Month 2020 with great enthusiasm as in past years. I understand that during the present crisis situation due to the corona pandemic, it would be not an easy task to do so. However, the members, institutions, and branches are requested to accelerate the growth of OT during the OT India Month by strictly observing safety guidelines and advisories issued by the AIOTA and the government.

  References Top

World Health Organization. COVID-19 Dashboard. World Health Organization; 2020. Available from: https://covid19.who.int/. [Last retrieved on 2020 Sep 26].  Back to cited text no. 1
Government of India. COVID Warrior Site. Government of India; 2020. Available from: https://covidwarriors.gov.in/covid_statewise.aspx?orgid=73. [Last retrieved on 2020 Sep 26].  Back to cited text no. 2
Government of India; 2020. Available from: http://pibarchive.nic.in/newsite/erelcontent.aspx?relid=210316. [Last retrieved on 2020 Sep 26].  Back to cited text no. 3
AIOTA. Smart OT Educational Plan; 2020. Available from: https://aiota.org/temp/site/images/Smart%20clincical%20OT%20edu%20AIOTA%20Final.pdf. [Last retrieved on 2020 Sep 26].  Back to cited text no. 4
ICHA. The Indian Council of Healthcare Accreditation. ICHA Mitra; 2020. Available from: https://www.icha.in/mitra/. [Last retrieved on 2020 Aug 08].  Back to cited text no. 5


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