Features of integrated professional training for physically disabled people in a community-based rehabilitation programme in the rural and urban areas of Congo
Background: The rehabilitation of physically disabled people has been explored from the perspectives of patients, health professionals, rehabilitation agencies, etc. However, no study has linked disability types, training programmes and career prospects. In this study, we therefore evaluated the professional integration of trained disabled people. Methods: This retrospective survey included all physically disabled people admitted to two rehabilitation centres in Congo between 1996 and 2005. Data collection used registers from two units, the medical unit and the rehabilitation unit, to obtain information on age, sex, disability type, follow-up training, present living activity and field of training. We defined ‘professional integration’ as being when the current profession matched the training received at the rehabilitation centre. Results: The percentage of participants with integrated training was 96.8% (95% CI; 92.1–98.7%). In the urban setting, 6.7% (95% CI; 2.6–16.1%) of the trainees were not integrated, while all were integrated in the rural setting. Trainees aged between 16 and 25 years and those 51+ years represented 12.5% (95% CI; 4.9–28%) and 50% (95% CI; 25.3–74.6%) of the non-integrated cases respectively. Paralysis from poliomyelitis was the most common [62.9% (95% CI; 54.3–70.8%)] disability, and the non-integrated participants included people with poliomyelitis [1.2% (95% CI; 0.2–6.7%)], general paralysis [10.5% (95% CI; 2.9–31.3%)] and sight disorders [50% (95% CI; 9.4–90.5%)]. Tailoring was the main field of training [57.4% (95% CI; 48.7–65.7%)], and high numbers of participants with non-integrated training worked in tailoring, shoe making, welding and computer repair. Conclusions: Despite a high rate of integration in Congo, professional training and subsequent integration would still benefit from a comprehensive approach that considers the type of disability, training and socio-demographic features. Further studies targeting alumni from the training programmes and their ongoing assessment are warranted.
Keywords: training; physical impairment; training integration; community-based rehabilitation; Congo; DRC