Australia’s Global Ambassador for Women and Girls visits the National Hospital in Timor-Leste

Date: 27/09/2012

During her two day trip to Timor-Leste, Ms. Penny Williams, Australia's Global Ambassador for Women and Girls, paid a visit to Timor-Leste the Guido Valadares National Hospital in Dili on September 20th. Ms. Williams requested this visit in order to experience the reproductive health services available to the women and families of this nation. Timor-Leste currently has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in South East Asia with 557 women losing their lives each year during pregnancy or childbirth per 100,000 live births.

Ms. Williams took a tour of the maternity ward in the national hospital and the Emergency Obstetric Care training centre which is supported by UNFPA's Reproductive Health Programme. Ms. Williams said that she was incredibly impressed by the services the hospital staff provide given the challenging environment that they work in. There are over 30 deliveries in the hospital each day, while only 39 staff and 65 beds are available in the maternity and post partum ward. Dr. Zeto, a UNFPA supported Obstetrics Gynecology specialist gave a tour of the maternity ward to the distinguished Australia guests and UNFPA representatives and explained the difficulties the medical staff face each day. Sometimes there are not enough human resources to cope with the large number of deliveries within the hospital and the medical staff may often face complicated deliveries because sometimes women do not present themselves to the hospital early enough.

Dr. Zeto explained that one of the problems in Timor-Leste is that there is no civic education to provide knowledge and information to people that their health is important. This is especially important for women, as they are the key for their family's health and education. Dr. Zeto praised UNFPA's programmes where a nurse is sent out to the communities to give information and instructions about reproductive health care and the importance of having regular check-ups if you pregnant. This was a welcome visit from the Global Ambassador and representatives from Ausaid and UNFPA to the national hospital as they have been assisting in the improvement of the quality of healthcare in Timor-Leste for many years. Currently, AusAID is supporting the National Hospital through their RACS (Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) programme providing doctors, surgeons and other technical assistance while UNFPA is the primary UN agency working on reproductive health with the Ministry of Health.

UNFPA will continue to support the national hospital through their Emergency Obstetric care training centre by providing technical assistance on trainings and equipment for the maternity ward. In order to ensure sustainability of specialist doctors in the country who will address the enormous challenges on women's health, UNFPA supported the specialty training in Obstetrics Gynecology of 3 Timorese doctors overseas. The UNFPA Country Office in Timor-Leste is committed in improving Reproductive Health also through their wider Reproductive Health programmes, including Safe Motherhood and Family Planning and Adolescent Reproductive Health programmes and in strengthening midwifery in Timor-Leste. This is to achieve the UNFPA vision -Delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted... every childbirth is safe...and every young person's potential is fulfilled.