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News from Member Organisations December 2022 - Belgium

Ergotherapie Belgium (EB) is born!

The Belgian professional association has a new name and new statutes since July 2022!

You all know that little Belgium has a very complex structure. We have 3 official languages and communities: French, German and Dutch. It’s not always easy to move forward altogether in this sometimes hectic landscape!

Even though, we decided we want to work along all together to advocate well and in a consistent manner to the different political levels (Federal and the 3 regions). We focus on our clients / patients and would like to work for them all.

In Belgium there are 2 independent regional professional associations: "Ergotherapie Vlaanderen (EV)" and "Union Professionelle des Ergothérapeutes Francophones en Germanophones (UPE)"

Because financing and regulation of health and welfare care are spread into several ministries at federal and regional levels, EV and UPE must work closely together.

The EB statutes are built on the principle of equality and equity between the 2 regional associations. Every decision is made by consensus.

This is why Ergotherapie Belgium currently consists of a Board of 8 members: 4 delegates designated from UPE and 4 designated from EV. The chairmen of EV and UPE are EB co-chairmen together, with equal power, duties and rights.

We are proud of Ergotherapie Belgium because it assures us that all the decisions we defend across Belgium are supported by all Belgian occupational therapists and in the interest of all of them.

Long live for Ergotherapie Belgium!

(Note: our logo is in the making)

Thank you, Marlies

“Passionate about making the world a better place.” That is what Google suggests when we type in your name, Marlies. A phrase that encapsulates you perfectly. In the nineties, you joined the board of our professional association. And you never let us. You represented our interests during COTEC and WFOT. And more: together with Claire Valentin, you put Belgian ergotherapy on the world map. For you, occupational therapy had no boundaries.

Shortly after your studies, you spent 4.5 years in the United States. Working. You saw an ad about a lack of occupational therapists over there and set off with all your wanderlust. There, the seeds were sown for you vision of our profession. When you returned, you started working at the Ghent University Hostpital, department of pneumology. Not a well-know department in our field of work, but you quickly made clear how important an occupational therapist can be in dealing with COPD or other lung diseases.

Six years ago, you were diagnosed with cancer. But you were not going to let treatment define your life. Your positive spirit was contagious. We can still hear you say, “Each extra day is one gained.” Despite the chemotherapy, you went back to work. You convinced the occupational doctor that you could safely work part-time. So you did. From the diagnosis until the day you heard treatment options were exhausted. Shortly after, you came to say goodbye during our “Denkdag” in 2021. This did not come easy…

Marlies, we have to say: you were a tough cookie. A strong woman who was not afraid of taking a stance. We may have not always seen eye to eye, but our dialogues consistently resulted in the improvement of our professional organisation and our profession. You truly carried occupational therapy in your heart. As you did others. Even during your treatment and when you stopped working, you continued to visit your patients. You also took de dogs from the Ghent animal shelter for a walk, every day.

That love for people and animals is what made you, you. With your husband on the number one spot. What a team. You, the strong-willed one. Him, the calm one. When treatment was exhausted, you got married. Everyone was invited to attend the ceremony and share a drink in a café afterwalds. We occupied the streets for hours. So many people came to see you two shine on your special day. On the 6th of June, you passed away peacefully.

Marlies, we will miss you and remember you with a smile. Above all, we will remember you as a phenomenal woman with an indomitable fighting spirit.

The board of Occupational Therapy Flanders