Timor-Leste has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Southeast Asia, at 44 per 1,000 live births. Causes include preventable diseases like diarrhea, malaria and respiratory ailments. With poor nutrition and low numbers of skilled attendants present at births, one in every 35 Timorese women is at risk of maternal death.
ChildFund Timor-Leste safeguards the health of infants and mothers through maternal and child health initiatives including facilitating the immunization of infants and pregnant mothers and training community volunteers to help their communities access village-level health services. These volunteers also provide information on the prevention of malaria, diarrhea and respiratory diseases and are trained to identify symptoms in seriously ill children and facilitate referral to professional health care when needed. These initiatives are pursued in coordination with the Ministry of Health.
In Timor-Leste, 37 percent of the rural population have no access to safe drinking water, and 52 percent have no access to toilets. ChildFund Timor-Leste provides rural communities with water and sanitation facilities and education on their use and maintenance. In a village in Maliana district, ChildFund Timor-Leste constructed three water wells, thereby saving villagers valuable time normally spent carrying water from a distant river.
“Before the water was far, but now we are happy because it is close,” says 12-year-old Elias.
In addition, laundry and washing areas and sanitation facilities were built, and parents and children were trained in diarrhea prevention and hygiene practices.