Obesity among topics at physiotherapy school centennial conference


New Zealand’s obesity epidemic will be highlighted during a
major scientific conference being held in Dunedin this week
to mark the centenary of the University of Otago School of
Physiotherapy.

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia, who is also Minister
of Disability Issues, will give the opening address when the
conference’s main sessions begin at the university on Friday.
About 360 people, many from the North Island, will also
attend centennial-related events this week, including a
gathering for physiotherapy graduates which will be formally
opened at a function this evening. The alumni gathering
celebrates ”100 Years of Education, Research and Practice”
and continues until Friday.

A centennial history, titled In Our Hands, will be launched,
and a film, School of Physiotherapy through the Eras, will be
screened.

Alumni from several countries, including Canada, Australia
and Malaysia, will attend. The heads of physiotherapy schools
throughout Australia and New Zealand will also meet.

Associate Prof Leigh Hale, of the physiotherapy school, who
is co-ordinating the two-day scientific conference, said
obesity-related issues were a major challenge for New Zealand
and the physiotherapy profession and would be among the many
topics discussed.

Organisers said the value of increased physical exercise in
countering obesity would also be highlighted.

Prof Hale was optimistic obesity could be successfully
countered in New Zealand, but a ”concerted effort” by
everyone involved would be required.

Prof Jeff Basford, of the Mayo Clinic, in the United States,
and Prof Steven Wolf, of Emory University, in Atlanta,
Georgia, are among the international speakers.

Dr Margot Skinner, the physiotherapy school’s deputy dean,
said the anniversary of the school’s founding in 1913 marked
an important milestone for the university and for the New
Zealand physiotherapy profession.

”New Zealand has always been a leader in physiotherapy. It’s
important to celebrate that,” she said.

The school and other members of the physiotherapy profession
were providing innovative and effective programmes for
countering obesity, and physiotherapists also had a key role
to play in associated education.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz