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Dili, December 16, 2021 -- Midwifery Association of Timor-Leste (APTL) joined hands with healthcare workers and other stakeholders to mark 21 years of the association’s existence in an event held at Clarita Hotel in Dili from December 6 to 7.

Over 800 midwives and healthcare workers, took part in a series of events in the capital and in municipalities, to celebrate over two decades of success in advancing interest of midwives in Timor-Leste.

A cross section of midwifes and other participants during APTL's 21st Anniversary celebrations. © UNFPA Timor-Leste 

The 21st Anniversary also marked the finalization and presentation of the final draft of code of conduct, ethics and standard of competency of midwives in the island nation.

In her opening speech, President of the Midwifery Association of Timor-Leste, Ms. Natalia de Araujo emphasized the critical role of development partners in reducing death of mothers and babies during and after birth.

‘‘The contribution and cooperation from development partners can strengthen and improve quality of life for families and support the reduction of maternal and child mortality and morbidity rates in Timor-Leste,” said Ms. Natalia de Araujo.

 Positive change in the health sector in Timor-Leste -- compared to previous health data -- can partly be attributed to the dedication and contributions of midwives to protect human lives.

However, though infant mortality declined from 60 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2003 to 30 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016 -- according to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) 2016 Timor-Leste -- building capacity of midwives and other healthcare workers is an area that still requires strengthening to protect the gains made.

UNFPA, in collaboration with APTL, Ministry of Health and National Health Institute (INS), continues to build capacity of midwives in Timor-Leste to provide high-quality pre-service midwifery education including training of the Minimum Initial Services Package (MISP) to mitigate effects of diseases like COVID-19 and training on addressing gender-based violence issues during emergencies -- that might strain the health system.

UNFPA has also supported quality in-service midwifery education, for example Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) training to midwives and doctors, that conforms to International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) standards, and formulation of midwifery regulations in Timor-Leste.

UNFPA Timor-Leste Assistant Country Representative, Dr. Domingas Bernardo congratulated APTL for the success that it has achieved over the year while challenging midwives to work even harder.

‘’On behalf of UNFPA, I would like to recognise the great progress that APTL has already achieved. However, we should also remember that we have a lot of work to protect lives particularly those of mothers and babies.

“UNFPA has collaborated with and supported APTL since its first existence because the role of the midwife is very important in Maternal and Child Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health which are core mandates for UNFPA. UNFPA continues to support APTL and the three midwifery schools in Timor-Leste (UNTL, ISC, ICS),” said Dr. Domingas Bernardo.

The National Director of Public Health, Mr. Carlito Freitas thanked partners for their commitment to support the Ministry of Health.

‘’I would like to recognise the contributions of APTL as an important association supporting the healthcare sector in Timor-Leste. Because of the excellent work from midwives, supported by APTL, we have been able to greatly improve healthcare services in our country. I would also like to thank UNFPA for their great commitment and continuous support to the Ministry of Health,” said Mr. Carlito Freitas.

“We will establish the National Health Council which will define Health System Laws to support professional associations in the health sector and the elaboration of the code of conduct and standard of competence.”


For more information, contact:


Suleiman Okoth

Communications and Programme Support Specialist

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Timor-Leste

UN House, Caicoli Street, Dili, Timor-Leste

Mobile: +67075169796

WhatsApp: +254 780534026