Adult Disability

December 12, 2023

Therapy Need in Kenya

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The Need for Increased Therapy Services in Kenya

Prevalence of Disability

Disability is prominent throughout our world, with the World Health Organization reporting that 10% of our population is disabled. More specifically, surveys have shown that in 2019, nearly 900,000 people in Kenya are living with some form of disability. According to the same survey, the top three types of disability in Kenya were related to mobility impairments, visual impairments and cognitive impairments.2 Studies have shown the population in Kenya continues to increase and people are living longer, which leads to more individuals who will require care. Accidents, strokes and chronic medical conditions will continue to exist, and the population needs healthcare that can meet its growing needs.

Rehab Presence in Kenya

Rehabilitation services, including physical, occupational, and speech therapies, help people restore function in their everyday lives and promote their independence as they go about completing their daily tasks. Taking a look at the current state of these therapies in Kenya is helpful to understand the gaps and barriers so they can be addressed moving forward. 

Physiotherapy in Kenya

Physical therapists are called “physiotherapists” in Kenya. Physiotherapists help promote strength, balance and mobility to adults and children.  There are opportunities for Kenyan physiotherapists to specialize in particular areas of physiotherapy including: Orthopedics, Women’s health, Cardiac rehab, Sports therapy, and Neurologic rehab.

Although the profession has made significant progress, as of 2022, there are about 2,500 physiotherapists registered in the country of Kenya – which translates to 1 physiotherapist for every 1,000 people who need physiotherapy.7 In addition, there are a total of six universities that offer a physiotherapy diploma for the country of Kenya – indicating a need for increased educational and training services in this area.

Occupational Therapy in Kenya

Occupational therapists work with people of all ages focusing on things like: self-care tasks (like showering or helping someone brush their teeth) , daily living activities (like cooking or cleaning), and leisure activities

Some occupational therapists can even specialize in cognition training, vision or driving assessments. 

There is also an increased need for occupational therapy services in Kenya.  A local newspaper in Kenya posted an article that shared that they had only eight OTs for the entire county of Murgang’a - which has a population of 1.05 million people!6 There are approximately 900 occupational therapists registered with the Kenya Occupational Therapy Society. There are three universities that offer training to become an occupational therapist in Kenya– two of which offer a diploma in OT and one that offers a Bachelors degree in OT.4

Speech Therapy in Kenya

Speech language pathologists (SLPs)/Speech therapists (ST) work with people on improving their communication, language and swallowing. Speech therapists can see patients of all ages. Clients range from young children who are delayed in speech production to adults who have difficulty swallowing due to a stroke. There is a major “supply versus capacity problem” for STs in Kenya.5 Speech therapy in Kenya has been around since the 1970s, however, the majority of speech therapists live in the capital city of Nairobi, leading to limited access for individuals – especially in more rural areas.  The Association of Speech Language Therapists Kenya lists about 30 fully licensed and practicing STs and one university to train STs for the country of Kenya.1  

Expanding Therapy Capacity in Kenya

There is a persistent need for a stronger and broader therapy presence in Kenya. The process to increase therapy capacity in Kenya involves a multidimensional, collaborative and strategic plan. A few of the basic steps to increase therapy capacity are expanded upon below, but this is a topic that requires continued discussion and strategy to truly have an impact.

  1. Education and Promotion of the Profession: In order to know how to move forward, we must know where we are at. By researching and sharing information about the current state of the allied health professions in Kenya, we can have a clearer guide on how to address the need for more therapy presence in Kenya. It is also important to promote the professions in local communities in Kenya to increase awareness and recruit more individuals to the allied health fields.

  1. Development of the Therapy Workforce: Thorough training and increased training of therapists is a key component to expanding therapy services in Kenya. This can be achieved via supporting the expansion of current training programs at local universities in Kenya and by hosting outside training programs for current therapists to attend. 

  1. Increasing Resources to Support Allied Health Professions: In addition to staff, there needs to be adequate infrastructure and equipment for rehabilitation services. Government funding and global aid directed at underserved areas of Kenya could help provide necessary assistive devices, equipment and buildings to allow for the increased expansion of therapy services. 

  1. Strategic Partnerships: Partnering with international and global organizations that provide aid, funding and training can help support the development and expansion of allied health professions in Kenya. Therapists Beyond Borders provides expertise in training for physical, occupational and speech therapy. Through these partnerships, the local therapists are able to gain education and skills in their specific allied health field, and pass it on to members of their therapy community to increase their impact and continue to help the profession grow. 

You can help support these goals by joining the Passport to Potential program, where you give a monthly donation in return for a newsletter that hi-lights physical, occupational and speech therapy from different areas around the globe, or by simply making a donation to Therapists Beyond Borders here


  1. Association of Speech Language Pathologists Kenya. (N.D.) Kenya’s Communicating.
  2. Development Initiatives. (May 2020). Status of Disability in Kenya.
  3. Gibson, R., Rochus, D., Musasizi, D., Alouch, F. O., & Staley, B. (2020). The impact of covid-19 on speech-language pathology practices in western Kenya. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 5(6), 1801–1804. 
  4. Kenya Occupational Therapy Association. (2023). About KOTA.
  5. Khoza-Shangase K, Mophosho M. Language and culture in speech-language and hearing professions in South Africa: Re-imagining practice. S Afr J Commun Disord. 2021 Jun 3;68(1):e1-e9. doi: 10.4102/sajcd.v68i1.793. PMID: 34082547; PMCID: PMC8252163.
  6. Omwenga, A. and Mugo, P. (26 October 2022). Kenyans Urged to Seek Professional Occupational Therapy.
  7. Otiendo, Brian. (14 May 2022). “Physiotherapists want profession given more focus.” The Star.
  8. Staley B, Hickey E, Rochus D, Musasizi D, Gibson R. Successes and challenges of speech language therapy service provision in Western Kenya: Three case studies. S Afr J Commun Disord. 2021 Sep 27;68(1):e1-e9. doi: 10.4102/sajcd.v68i1.838. PMID: 34636594; PMCID: PMC8517751.
  9. Study in Kenya. (n.d.)
  10. World Physiotherapy. (2023). Kenya Society of Physiotherapists.
  11. Khoza-Shangase K, Mophosho M. Language and culture in speech-language and hearing professions in South Africa: Re-imagining practice. S Afr J Commun Disord. 2021 Jun 3;68(1):e1-e9. doi: 10.4102/sajcd.v68i1.793. PMID: 34082547; PMCID: PMC8252163.

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