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DILI, October 8, 2021 – A cohort of 11 trainees -- including midwives and doctors -- successfully completed a 26-day comprehensive training on Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) held at the National Hospital in Dili, Timor-Leste end of September.

The hands-on training, that started on February 17, was suspended indefinitely due to confirmed cases of COVID-19 among 10 participants and enforced public health protocols in Timor-Leste to control the spread of the pandemic in the South East Asian nation.

The course, facilitated by UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF, Australian Government through Project for Human Development (PHD), and HAI in partnership with Ministry of Health, Timor-Leste, resumed in September after the government of Timor-Leste eased restrictions on holding public meetings.

“I was one of those who tested positive in the middle of the training. We had just finished 18 days and the course had to be suspended following orders from health authorities,” said Filipa de Fatima de Jesus, a midwife from Lacluta Community Health Centre in Viqueque Municipality.

“I would like to recommend that more midwives from the municipalities be afforded the opportunity to attend such trainings to appropriately respond to life threatening conditions and other complications that may occur during childbirth,” added Filipa.

The comprehensive training is designed to improve the ability of midwives and doctors to identify mothers at risk and provide good management and their transfer to appropriate health facilities as a way of reducing mortality rates among newborn babies and mothers.

The training aims to improve skills in pregnancy-related care and knowledge to recognise and manage obstetric complications, enhance decision making and communication skills of health care service providers focusing on midwives and doctors.

Timor-Leste currently has one of the highest infant mortality rates and maternal mortality ratios in South East Asia.

The island nation has an infant mortality rate of 43.9 deaths per 1,000 live births and a maternal mortality ratio of 142 deaths per 100,000 live births.  

Dr. Sidonio Amaral, a medical doctor from Cailaco Community Health Centre in Maliana, Bobonaro Municipality noted that the knowledge he received during the training enhanced his capacity to serve his community better.

“I supported and attended to three complicated cases during delivery after the course was stopped due to COVID-19, besides attending to numerous normal deliveries whenever I was needed. I successfully attended two of those cases and referred one to Bobonaro Referral Hospital.

“Because I was not fully trained, on the use of vacuum extraction [a type of assisted delivery used to remove a baby from the birth canal] during delivery, I was not confident enough to attend to the third case whose mother had previously undergone a cesarean operation.

“After successfully finishing this course, I am confident about identifying and attending to mothers with complications during delivery,” said Dr. Sidonio.

Since 2018, UNFPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other partners has provided EmONC training to over 118 participants in ten batches with each batch of trainees having between 10 to 13 participants.

Such trainings can help increase quality of health care services, bring services close to newborn babies and mothers particularly among hard-to-reach communities while contributing to reduction in the number of deaths at birth. 

“Before the training we referred pregnant mothers with complications to specialists but this training [EmONC] has equipped us with more knowledge to attend to pregnant mothers with complications.

“I am now able to identify any complications and respond appropriately,” said Estela Amaral, a midwife at Maliana Referral Hospital in Bobonaro Municipality.


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