The African Federation of Orthopaedic TEchnicians (FATO) aims to promote access to the right to functional rehabilitation of disabled persons in Africa through the creation of a network of professionals (orthopaedic technicians, physiotherapists, rehabilitation doctors etc.)
Right at the beginning of FATO there was a reality : P&O professionals from many Central and West African states were attending a workshop in Lomé, Togo where they made a situation analysis of the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in Africa. They came to the following conclusions :
- Absence of a body where technicians of orthopaedic technology can exchange experiences at national or regional level ;
- Insufficiency of permanent training for the technicians ;
Difficulty for professionals to have access to information
- Lack of knowledge of the profession by various public health officials within most African countries.
A tool was therefore set up in order to meet their needs : the Federation Africaine des Techniciens Orthoprothésistes or FATO. Created in 1992, Federation Africaine des Techniciens Orthoprothesistes FATO was officially recognized in 1999 by an official note numbered as 99 122 /MAT / SG /DG AT/ DLPAJ from the Ministry in charge of Territorial Administration and Security of Burkina Faso. Ouagadougou is considered the headquarters of FATO. As a body, FATO includes national associations from African countries and the major objective is to promote the rehabilitation of people with disabilities. Its goal is to organize and coordinate their actions in order to help its members to better do their job.
FATO’s objectives are to :
- Gather African associations of P&O professionals in a body that promotes exchanges, mutual assistance and self-fulfillment.
- Work for the rehabilitation of all persons with disabilities in Africa.
- Help promote research on new technologies appropriate to the African context.
- Create a framework for meetings, training, and experience sharing between Africans countries and also with the rest of the world.
FATO comprises a Federal Conference and a Regional Assembly.
The Conference is the supreme decision making body of the Federation. It is called every two years for ordinary meetings.
The Regional Assembly is composed of members from a specific region. This meeting is held every two years.
As of today, the FATO covers all Francophone West and Central Africa but the Federation intends to stretch its activities to all the continent. The members of the federation are grouped in five sections corresponding to the regional mapping of Africa as done by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) :
- The Northern Section includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.
- The Western Section includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote-d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
- The Central Section Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe and Chad.
- The Eastern Section includes Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Uganda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Tanzania.The Southern Section includes South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
As of today, 15 national associations that are FATO members have received their official recognition. They are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Chad and Togo. In the other countries, negotiations are still in process (Ref. Attachment I).
FATO currently has 243 members who are individuals and most of them are prosthetists/orthotists technicians, assistant technicians, orthopaedic shoemakers. There are about 158 rehabilitation centres in West and Central Africa, and most of the technicians members of FATO are working there.
In West Africa and Central Africa, the number of P&O professionals is estimated to around 300 persons. They are scattered in 17 countries which population in total is estimated at 248,2 million inhabitants including 24,82 million persons with disabilities.