205120 Improving maternal and newborn care in Timor-Leste: A partnership with the Ministry of Health

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:55 AM

Mary Anne Mercer, DrPH , Health Alliance International, Seattle, WA
Susan Thompson, MPH , Health Alliance International, Seattle, WA
Marisa Harrison, MPHc , School of Public Health/Global Health Department, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

In 2002 Timor-Leste became the newest and the poorest nation in Southeast Asia and has some of the worst indicators of maternal and newborn health in this region: maternal mortality is estimated at 650-800/100,000; neonatal mortality at 33/1000 live births; 20% of women had a skilled birth attendant (SBA); 10% delivered in a health facility; antenatal coverage was 50%; and only 7.5% were currently using a family planning method.

In 2004, Health Alliance International (HAI) partnered with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Health (MOH) to improve the quality of maternal and newborn services while also conducting community health promotion to increase the demand for services. This study aimed to determine the extent to which maternal and newborn health has improved over four years of program efforts.


In June 2008, HAI conducted a cluster-sample survey of health knowledge and practices among women with children under age two in HAI's six program districts. Key outcomes were compared to 2003 DHS statistics for HAI program districts.


Key improvements over 2003 DHS statistics were seen in antenatal care (50% to 82%), SBA (16% to 37%), exclusive breastfeeding of children 0-5 months (29% to 68%), and contraceptive prevalence (7.5% to 26%). Greater household wealth and higher educational level were associated with increased antenatal care and SBA.


As a new nation, Timor-Leste is making progress toward improving maternal and newborn care. Close collaboration between HAI and the MOH permits alignment and integration of program activities with the public sector health services.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the presentation the participants will be able to: 1. Describe common cultural and other barriers to maternal and newborn services in Timor-Leste 2. Identify the benefits of working in partnership with the public health sector to improve health outcomes for mothers and newborns and sustainability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have organized and directed a maternal and newborn care project in Timor-Leste for the past five years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.