Original Research

Communication rehabilitation in sub-Saharan Africa: A workforce profile of speech and language therapists

Karen Wylie, Lindy McAllister, Bronwyn Davidson, Julie Marshall
African Journal of Disability | Vol 5, No 1 | a227 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v5i1.227 | © 2016 Karen Wylie, Lindy McAllister, Bronwyn Davidson, Julie Marshall | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 September 2015 | Published: 09 September 2016

About the author(s)

Karen Wylie, ENT Department, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, University of Sydney, Australia
Lindy McAllister, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia
Bronwyn Davidson, Department of Audiology & Speech Pathology, the University of Melbourne, Australia
Julie Marshall, Health Professions Department, Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom


Background: There is an urgent global need to strengthen rehabilitation services for people with disabilities. In sub-Saharan Africa, rehabilitation services for people with communication disabilities continue to be underdeveloped. A first step in strengthening services for people with a communication disabilities is to understand the composition and conditions of the current workforce.
Objectives: This research describes a sample of the speech and language therapists (SLTs) working in SSA (excluding South Africa). This study explores the characteristics of this workforce, including their demographics, education, experience and geographical stability.
Method: A mixed-methods survey was used to collect data from SLTs within Anglophone countries of SSA. Completed surveys were received from 33 respondents working in 44 jobs across nine countries. Analysis included descriptive and non-parametric inferential statistics. This study reports on a subset of descriptive and quantitative data from the wider survey.
Results: A background profile of SLTs across the region is presented. Results indicated that the workforce of SLTs comprised a mix of local and international SLTs, with university-level education. Local SLTs were educated both within and outside of Africa, with more recent graduates trained in Africa. These data reflected the local emergence of speech and language therapy training in SSA.
Conclusion: This sample comprised a mix of African and international SLTs, with indications of growing localisation of the workforce. Workforce localisation offers potential advantages of linguistic diversity and stability. Challenges including workforce support and developing culturally and contextually relevant SLT practices are discussed.


speech pathology; speech and language therapy; workforce; developing countries; communication disability; service delivery; education


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Crossref Citations

1. Training for hearing care providers
Mahmood F Bhutta, Xingkuan Bu, Patricia Castellanos de Muñoz, Suneela Garg, Kelvin Kong
Bulletin of the World Health Organization  vol: 97  issue: 10  first page: 691  year: 2019  
doi: 10.2471/BLT.18.224659