Webinar: Rehabilitation and Universal Health Coverage

Learn from country leaders and experts about how to integrate rehabilitation into health systems and UHC strategies

Did you know that one-third of the world’s population needs rehabilitation at some point in the course of their illness or injury? Yet rehabilitation is often underprioritized in countries’ health systems and universal health coverage (UHC) strategies. On February 2nd, the Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator and the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage (JLN) are co-hosting a webinar that will bring together UHC and rehabilitation leaders to exchange country experiences with rehabilitation, including how (or whether) it is integrated within health systems and UHC strategies, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022

10 am – 11:30 am (EDT) | 3 pm – 4:30 pm (GMT)


Nathan Blanchet
Dr. Nathan Blanchet
Senior Program Director, Results for Development & Project Director Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator

Dr. Nathan Blanchet is a health systems specialist and international development leader with over 20 years of experience advancing public health and education in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia through academic research, teaching, and nonprofit program leadership. As a senior program director at Results for Development, Dr. Blanchet serves as project director for the Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator, a global initiative to improve health systems strengthening locally and globally. He also leads work on designing and implementing national health insurance programs and other means of achieving universal health coverage in low- and middle-income countries. Focus areas include strengthening primary health care and integrating vertically financed and private health services into sustainable public health financing systems. Previously Dr. Blanchet co-led the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage’s Primary Health Care Initiative, which produced widely used tools such as a way for countries to ensure health financing promotes primary health care and a guide that helps public sector stakeholders better engage the private sector in primary health care. Dr. Blanchet holds an ScD in global health and population from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, an MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a BA in political science and French from Miami University.


Dr. Alarcos Cieza, Unit Head: Sensory Functions, Disability, and Rehabilitation, World Health Organization
Dr.Alarcos Cieza
Unit Head: Sensory Functions, Disability, and Rehabilitation, World Health Organization

Dr. Alarcos Cieza oversees the World Health Organization’s work on vision, hearing, disability, and rehabilitation related to policies, medical care and rehabilitation, community-based rehabilitation, assistive devices and technologies, data collection approaches, and capacity building. After obtaining her MSc in psychology in Madrid, Spain, she obtained a Master’s of Public Health and a Ph.D. in Medical Psychology from the Ludwig-Maximillians University in Munich, Germany, where she led the research unit for over ten years at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Pettenkofer School of Public Health.


Dr. Adolfo Martinez Valle, Steering Group Convener at JLN; Research Professor in Policy, Population, and Health at Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico
Dr. Adolfo Martinez Valle
Steering Group Convener, Joint Learning Network & Researcher and Professor in Policy, Population, and Health at Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico

Dr. Adolfo Martínez Valle is currently the Convener of the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage (JLN) and head of academic unit at a health policy research center at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He joined the JLN in 2015 when he was designing a reform for creating a National Health System as part of a Mexican Task Group within the Ministry of Health. For nearly twenty-five years he has been both designing, implementing, and evaluating health policies to achieve UHC both in Mexico and internationally. He earned a doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins University on public policy and health and a master’s degree on International Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He has conducted research at the Mexican Health Foundation and the National Institute of Public Health with several publications on the social determinants of health, health care systems, as well as health policy planning and evaluation.

Dr. Akanle Olufunke, Registrar/CEO at the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists Regional Board of Nigeria (MRTB)
Dr. Akanle Olufunke
Registrar/CEO at the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists Regional Board of Nigeria (MRTB)

Dr. Akanle Olufunke is the first female Registrar/CEO of the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists Registration Board of Nigeria (MRTB) and a licensed physiotherapist. She graduated from the University of Ibadan with a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy and obtained two master’s degrees, one in Orthopaedic and Sport Physiotherapy from the University of Ibadan, and another in Ergonomic and Industrial Physiotherapy from the University of Lagos. She holds a Doctor of Science (D.SC) in Rehabilitation Medicine (Honoris causa) from Commonwealth University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Administration (Honoris causa) from Prowess University. Having won several awards, Dr. Akanle is also a fellow at the following institutions: National Postgraduate Physiotherapy College of Nigeria, Orthopaedic and Manual Therapy; Occupational Safety & Health Association (FOSHA); Institute for Health Insurance and Managed Care of Nigeria (FIHIMN); and the Institute of Management Consultants (FIMC). As Registrar/CEO, she has improved the standard of training and practice of medical rehabilitation professions through the accreditation of clinical and academic institutions and ensured the inclusion of disabilities and rehabilitation in the 2016 National Health Policy. She represents Nigeria in the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO), where she worked on the harmonization of standards for training curriculums and accreditation guidelines for physiotherapy and other medical rehabilitation professions. Additional accomplishments include the institutionalization of the International Conference of Medical Rehabilitation professions in Nigeria.

Maryke Bezuidenhout, Assistant Director of Physiotherapy at Manguzi Hospital, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Maryke Bezuidenhout
Rural Physiotherapy, South Africa

Maryke Bezuidenhout graduated as a physiotherapist from the University of Pretoria in 2001 and has spent 19 years of her professional career as a clinician, manager, and activist in the rural province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She recently completed a diploma in health economics, graduating with distinction, and has publications in the South African Health Review and the South African Child Gauge. In her clinical role, she has partnered with community members with disabilities and donor organizations to enhance publicly funded rehabilitation services in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She is also the chairperson of multi-disciplinary advocacy NPO Rural Rehab South Africa (RuReSA) and has been an active contributor in the debates towards South Africa’s proposed National Health Insurance initiative for Universal Health Coverage.


Joint Learning Network and Accelerator logos