IPOH, Tues. - The Yayasan Sultan Idris Shah is embarking on an ambitious programme to provide training in community-based rehabilitation at intermediate and tertiary level.

Its chairman, Datuk Seri V. Jeyaratnam, told a Press conference today YSIS would put forward a proposal to both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education on a twinning programme between a local university and the Uppsala University of Sweden.

"In view of the shortage of qualified professionals trained in CBR, YSIS has proposed to provide training in CBR at intermediate and tertiary level."

"The objective of the intermediate level is to train therapy proficiency."

"This measure is to upgrade the skills of the assistants employed at the more than 100 non-governmental organisations and CBR centres. The tertiary level is a post-graduate course."

Jeyaratnam said there was an acute shortage of skilled professionals like occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and rehabilitation technicians in the country, YSIS would take the first step in acting as "a catalyst for practical training" to meet the rising demand.

He said if all went as planned, courses with an initial intake of between 20 and 30 would be start next year. It will be open to students from all over the country.

"Initially we will bring in lecturers but with the eventual transfer of knowledge, the courses will be conducted by locals and the YSIS centre in Bercham will be the centre from which classes would be held."

The New Zealand High Commission through its mission fund had shown its support of the proposal by granting YSIS a sum of RM10,000 recently for the purchase of a computer system to facilitate the training and upgrading of services to people with disabilities.

Jeyaratnam said a global CBR consultant with the Uppsala University had responded to the proposal and would help formulate a programme curriculum that would suit the "Malaysian environment".

YSIS, which began in 1982 with four disabled people, has grown to accommodate about 2,000 disabled people, whose needs are met with the help of about 10 CBR centres, staffed by 32 full-time workers, around the State.