History of the MRTB Nigeria

The unique milestone in the eventful history of the world of Medical Rehabilitation on the continent of Africa was made on Tuesday, December 29, 1992 when the then Honourable Minister of Health, Late Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti inaugurated the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Board of Nigeria.

The struggle for a legal regulating Board of control for the various medical disciplines in Medical Rehabilitation Therapy in Nigeria was a long and tedious one, dating as far back as 1959, when the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy (NSP) was established. At long last, the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Board of Nigeria was constituted by a Nigerian Law, i. e. Decree 38 of 1988/M9 LFN 2004. However, the actualisation in terms of the birth of this Board i. e. her inauguration did not take place until the historic date of Tuesday December 29, 1992. Before then a lot of water has passed under the bridge.

Early on that historic morning of December 29, 1992, the newly appointed members of this Board who were from across the nation were patiently waiting. These members were appointed by the Head of State, the President and Commander of the Armed Forces of Nigeria on the recommendation of the Honourable Minister of Health. Precisely, the time was 10.00 a. m. on that date when the then Honourable Minister of Health entered the venue i. e. the Conference Hall of the Federal Ministry of Health, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria with his team of Directors to perform the official inauguration of the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Board of Nigeria with an elaborate coverage by the national and international news media. The constitution and inauguration of this Board had since remained second to none of her type in Africa.

The pioneer members of the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Board of Nigeria were:
Professor G. I. Odia Chairman
Dr. Isaac O. Owoeye Acting Registrar
Mr. B. A. Williams Member
Dr. C. C. Unogwu Member
Mr. A. O. Ukaegbu Member
Dr. K. Sodeke Member
Dr. (Mrs.) A. O. Sanya Member
Dr. O. Owolawi Member
Mr. M. O. B. Olaogun Member
Dr. I. A. Falope Member
Mr. G. Etikeretse Member
Dr. M. Dawodu Member
Mr. C. B. Dan-Jumbo Member
Chief J. A. Dagbue Member
Mrs. O. O. Coker Member
Miss S. A. Adeniji-Adele Member

The Board, MRTB, is a Parastatal, and an arm of the Federal Ministry of Health. Unlike other Boards/Councils; the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Board of Nigeria has an heterogeneous nature in the sense that the Board controls the training and practice of six (6) different Medical Professions in the Health Sector in Nigeria, namely:
1. Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy is a dynamic and autonomous profession characterized by a body of knowledge with established theoretical base and widespread clinical applications in the examination/assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of Neuro-musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, integumentary and respiratory disorders with the aim of preserving, developing and restoring physical functions by natural methods. Physical Therapy initiated by a few expatriate Physiotherapists in National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi as Technicians in 1945. From Igbobi, Lagos, it then extended to other centres like Ibadan, Kano and Enugu. The major components of Physiotherapy, are Diagnostic, curative, Therapeutic, preventive and Rehabilitative Physiotherapy. The profession aimed at restoring patient to a level where he is able to achieve maximum potential for normal living in the Physical, Psychological, Social and Vocational sense. It accounts for over 90% of the Board’s (MRTB’s) registrants and is clinically practised today in diverse settings, industries, schools, colleges, Rehabilitation centres and homes for the elderly. The Board presently has about two thousand (2000) qualified and Physiotherapists and sixty – three (63) Physiotherapy. Technicians practicing in the country and diaspora.

2. Occupational Therapy
The Occupational Therapy, an important aspect of Medical Rehabilitation, involves the utilization of constructive and manipulative activities as media for therapy with emphasis on the use of occupation to close the gap between disability and ability. Essentially, Occupational Therapy is about rehabilitating patients back into community or society with an applicable level of self-reliance that will enable them perform their ability. Without occupational therapy, there would be a missing link in the recovery process. It views all human beings as an occupational being in a way to adapt all activities within the influence of the environment relying mainly on the individual’s choices of roles and tasks that a person possibly enjoys doing and is within her motivational level of performance. The practice was initiated by a few expatriates in early fifties at the Psychiatric hospitals in Lagos and Abeokuta, Ogun State and later at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State. Nigerians started training as Occupational Therapists in the late 1950’s and a large percentage were trained in Britain. During the Civil war, Civilian Occupational Therapists were co-opted to serve in the army as non-commissioned officers. Occupational Therapy ranks second (2nd) to Physiotherapy in-terms of population of Registrants. Currently, the Board can boast of twenty – nine (29) qualified and registered Occupational. Therapists and eighty-six (86) Technicians practicing in Nigeria in Teaching, Psychiatric, Orthopaedic hospitals, army resettlement centres, social development ministry, etc.

3. Chiropractic and Ostheopathic Medicine
Chiropractic medicine is an aspect of medicine relating to spinal column adjustment and other rotations of parts of a body, to align the parts back into their proper positions. While osteopathic is an essential approach to medicine focusing on the bones and muscles and their relationship to diseases and pathology. Both professions are essential components of Rehabilitation. The Board has only four (4) licensed Chiropractors and two (2) Osteopaths in her register.

4. Speech Therapy / Audiology
This is a branch of Medical Rehabilitation Therapy aimed at maximising essential skills concerned with language ability in those people born with mental or physical handicap or in those who have lost these skills because of disease or trauma. Audiology, on the other hand, is the scientific study of hearing aimed at restoring patients with hearing deficits to as near normal as possible taking into consideration the limitation set-up by the pathology. Hearing assessment, detecting hearing impairment, dispensing and fitting of hearing aids, providing counseling and monitoring hearing-impaired are few of their professional duties. The Board (MRTB) has fifty (50) Speech Therapists/Audiologists registered with it. Presently the profession does not have a low-level cadre (Technicians).

5. Prosthetics and Orthotics
Prosthetics and Orthotics which is the evaluation, fabrication and custom-fitting of artificial limbs and orthopaedic braces is also regulated and controlled by the Board (MRTB). They joined the league of professions controlled by Board a couple of years ago and MRTB can boast of seven (7) of these professionals working in diverse settings in the country. As part of Medical Rehabilitation Therapy professions are also involve in preventing/correcting the consequences of the disease-impairment, disability and handicap and where possible eliminate the consequent handicaps.

In the year 2000, the Chiropractors and Osteopaths migrated into another Board/Council, leaving the Board, MRTB, with the responsibility of regulating and controlling the training and practice of Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Clinical Audiology in the Health Sector in Nigeria.

With effect from December, 1992, the Board has been functioing as the regulator and licensor of all Medical Rehabilitation Therapists in Nigeria. It is therefore illegal for any Medical Rehabilitation Therapists to practise his/her profession without Current Professional Licence of the Board, MRTB, in Nigeria.

In accordance with section 15, 1 & 2 of the enabling laws i. e. Decree 38 of 1988/M9 LFN 2004 it is illegal for any Medical Rehabilitation Therapists to be engaged in any form of work (public/private), if the performance of such duty is for gain without holding Current Practising Licence of the Board, MRTB, and the person(s) found guilty of this offence will face the wrath of the laws (Medico-legal Implications).

N.B. A professional with a current licence can only teach his/her profession in Board's accredited institution.

In compliance with the law, every practitioner of any of the above professions in Nigeria is expected, at the beginning of every year to renew his or her professional practising license to enable him/her to legally practise his/her profession.