As the flags processed in for the opening ceremony of the 31st ILAP congress in Taipei this year in August, there were 46 countries represented. However, without a formal speech therapy professional in Cambodia to represent the country on an international level, the Cambodian flag was not yet amongst them.
From 18 to 22 August, Ms. Ruth Bryce, Program Manager, represented OIC Cambodia at the ILAP congress. She spent the five days of the congress learning a lot and sharing with people about OIC’s work to grow speech therapy in Cambodia. “I was greatly encouraged and hope that by the next IALP Congress in 2022, Cambodia will also be amongst the member countries,” said Ms. Ruth.
IALP stands for the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics – the professions most usually known as Speech Therapy and Audiology. This congress brought together around 1000 professionals involved in research, university programs, resource development, and direct therapy provision. Each presentation brought new ideas and challenges relating to the fields of speech therapy and audiology.
“For me, the two biggest takeaways from the congress were the networks for future collaboration, such as research projects, academic program development, resource development, and advocacy projects, and the resounding affirmation for what we were part of in establishing a foundation for speech therapy in Cambodia,” Ruth added.
It was encouraging to speak with people who have involved in speech therapy academic and public health system development in parts of Africa, South America, Asia, and Europe Their endorsement of the plans we have for developing a Speech Therapy university program in Cambodia in coming years.
Growing a new profession is not easy work OIC Cambodia’s approach of collaboration with Government, NGO, and private stakeholders, means that while we can design and specific services, research projects, advocacy campaigns, and speech therapy materials, many of the outcomes we are seeking are beyond our direct control.
The opportunity to attend the ILAP congress was both a great chance to see what’s happening elsewhere in the Speech Therapy related world, but also to reflect on what we have already and dream of what will be in Cambodia in the future. Many thanks to our donors for approving attendance at this conference. It’s an activity I know will have many benefits in the immediate and future life of Speech Therapy in Cambodia.