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DILI, February 09, 2022Thanks to the newly launched Liquiçá Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEmONC) centre of excellence -- equipped with trained providers and medical and non-medical equipment to identify mothers at risk and provide good management -- mothers in Timor-Leste have more reasons to smile.

While Timor-Leste has made great progress in improving maternal health, over 50% of mothers in the island nation still deliver at home risking their lives and those of their babies.

Similarly, lack of skilled birth attendants during pregnancy and child birth is a big challenge in addressing Timor-Leste’s high maternal and infant mortality rates in the region -- 195 per 100,000 live births maternal mortality ratio and 30 per 1,000 live births infant mortality rate.

Speaking during the official launch of the first Basic Emergency Obstetric and New Born Care (BEmONC) centre in Liquicá municipality this week, Dr. Odete Maria Freitas Belo, Minister of Health, emphasized the government’s commitment to work with partners to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in Timor-Leste.

“We would like to thank our partners particularly UNFPA for the efforts to unify all partners to put their hands together to establish this BEmONC center.

“We will continue to collaborate with partners to ensure that we end maternal mortalities in the country. We want all child births in the country to happen in health facilities established,” said Dr. Odete Maria Freitas.

Since 2018, 118 trainees have benefited from Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) training facilitated by Ministry of Health through National Health Institute (INS) with technical support from UNFPA.

Mrs. Domingas da Costa Pereira, The Director of National Health Institute, noted that through technical support received from UNFPA, health workers are now competent to serve mothers and babies in Community Health Centers and BEmONC center.

“The Ministry of Health and UNFPA established National Guideline. The National Health Institute with support from UNFPA also established the curriculum with information package for doctors and midwives to reduce deaths during child birth,” said Mrs. Domingas da Costa Pereira.

The BEmONC centre of excellence was made possible by continuous generous contributions from the Australian Government to UNFPA through PHD, and working closely with WHO, UNICEF, KOICA, HAI and Marie Stopes TL among other partners.

Dr. Manuel dos Santos Moruc, a beneficiary of the Emergency Obstetric and New Born Care training is confident to serve the community better.

“I am among five trainees from Liquicá Community Health Center who participated in 26 days intensive training. In 2021, we attended to 555 deliveries with no maternal death recorded in this Community Health Center. We thank our trainers, UNFPA and partners for their continued support to help mothers and new born babies,’’ said Dr. Manuel dos Santos.

Timor-Leste still has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Asia, and the majority of those deaths are preventable.

Mr. Ronny Lindstrom, UNFPA Timor-Leste Country Representative, stressed the need to strengthen the existing EmONC programme.

“UNFPA, in close partnership with the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Heath, continue to strengthen the capacity of the health personnel nationwide on EmONC. We also provide the necessary medical and non-medical equipment to apply their acquired knowledge and skills – and by doing that, contribute to our goal of zero preventable maternal deaths,” said Mr. Ronny Lindstrom.

“We do hope that Liquiçá Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEmONC) centre of excellence will be the first of seven more certified BEmONC centres to come with three more expected in the first half of 2022.”

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: +670 75169796
WhatsApp: +254 780534026