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Assistance To Build East Timor's Health System


The Hon John Howard, MP

Prime Minister Australia

Practical Assistance To Build East Timor's Health System

I am pleased to announce three new Australian aid projects to provide practical assistance in the reconstruction of East Timor’s health system.

Since late 1999 Australia has been working in partnership with the East Timorese to improve basic health services and build the capacity of the Ministry of Health.

Through our overseas aid agency, AusAID, we will build on these efforts in three significant areas.

The $3 million Specialist Medical Services Project will run for four years and provide specialist medical services. At present, there are no practising East Timorese surgeons or specialists and the Ministry of Health has limited resources to maintain essential minimum surgical capability.

The project will provide a general surgeon and anaesthetist to the Hospital Nacional Dili for three years and involve approximately 13 visits per year for three years by visiting specialist teams, including plastic and reconstructive surgery, eye surgery, ear, nose and throat surgery and paediatric surgery.

This Specialist Medical Services Project will be managed by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and will also offer training in surgical and anaesthetic services to East Timorese medical personnel. This Project will build upon the successful interim surgical support that has been provided to East Timor by Australia since mid-2001.

The second project is the provision of 10 four-wheel drive ambulances, worth approximately $900,000 for an East Timor District Ambulance Service.

A $430,000 training package will also be delivered to ambulance personnel such as drivers and nurses. At present, the Ministry of Health has just four ambulances based in Dili, Baucau,Viqueque and Same. The additional vehicles will assist in establishing a simple, sustainable and low cost district ambulance service in East Timor.

The third project deals with mental health. Over the next three years, starting around September 2002, support will be given to the Ministry of Health to implement a mental health program in all 13 districts of East Timor.

It will train 15 specialist mental health workers and generalist health workers in the recognition, diagnosis and treatment of people with severe mental illness. It is anticipated that by the end of three years this project will have set in place measures to sustain a National Mental Health Program that has broad community support and involvement and is aligned with World Heath Organisation policies and strategies for mental health services.

This Project will build upon the successful PRADET (Psychosocial Recovery and Development for East Timor) activity that has been providing mental health services in East Timor since 2000.

I am confident that these programs will play an important part in creating the foundations of a new health service in East Timor.

They will build upon a significant aid programme already in place to build health services in East Timor, including assistance to combat HIV/AIDS and a $5 million oral health project.

19 May 2002


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