The country has recorded some good progress in health areas such as infant and under-five mortality rates, antenatal care coverage and treatment of tuberculosis, according to UNDP’s Human Development Report 2011.
However, areas such as the prevalence of underweight children under-five, the maternal mortality rate, incidence of malaria and the proportion of people using improved sanitation facilities have seen little improvement.
Even in the areas of progress, the statistics are grim. For instance, in the decade to 2013, the mortality rate for children under five in Timor-Leste fell from 83 per1000 to 64. The rate in Australia is five deaths per 1000.
Fertility rates now stand at 5.7 per woman of reproductive age, as opposed to 6.7 in 2003. Eighty-six percent of women receive at least one ante-natal care visit, and just over half of under-two-year-olds receive their full schedule of immunizations.
The health of mothers in Timor-Leste is particularly poor in remote rural areas. More than 38% are malnourished and anaemic, leading to delivery of children with low birth weights. Other risks come from poor birth-spacing, the still high fertility rate, an overall shortage of qualified health workers, and generally low access to health care facilities.
Our MCH programs
In MCH we focus on three outcomes:
- Improving mothers’ and children’s nutrition status
- Protecting pregnant women and children from infection and disease
- Facilitating access to essential health services.
The key elements are:
- WV International’s health and nutrition ‘7-11’ strategy. This is based around seven key interventions that focus on the mother and 11 that focus on children under 2. We emphasise proven and cost-effective practices at the primary health care level.
- A Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Health and WVTL covers coordination and joint health messaging. Under the MoU, WVTL encourages the use of government services such as SISCa (monthly mobile health clinics) and community health volunteers.
- As a community-based NGO, WVTL helps mothers and caregivers to adopt practices in the home such as hand washing and breast feeding. We set up mothers’ clubs, which are groups where expectant women and young mothers can share their experiences and learn about ante- and post-natal care, plus good hygiene and disease prevention.
- This work can lead to community health volunteers or WV staff making follow-up home visits to vulnerable households.
- Through training for health workers and volunteers, we can bring to communities the Ministry of Health’s technical protocols on newborn care; management of pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria; growth monitoring; and micronutrient powders.
- We engage in policy dialogue and strategy development at the national level by taking part in Ministry of Health working groups.
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