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How can we prevent infant deaths in Timor-Leste?

Urgent action is needed to save babies in Timor-Leste from dying before their first birthday. 

ChildFund Australia has already implemented several projects across Timor-Leste, helping to reduce the infant mortality rate in the country. However, there’s still so much more work to be done before the issue is solved. 

This is how we can stop preventable newborn deaths in Timor-Leste.

Every five hours a baby under the age of one dies

Recent global studies have shown a decline in the deaths of children under five, but newborn deaths are falling at a slower pace.

In Timor-Leste, two-thirds of all child deaths occur in the first year of life, and every five hours a baby under the age of one dies.

Those figures call for immediate action, according to ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence.

“In most cases these deaths are completely preventable,” Nigel says.“It is not because we do not have a cure. It is because babies are not able to get the treatment they need and essential information is not reaching their parents.”

Why is the infant and newborn mortality rate so high?

Timor-Leste, one of the world’s youngest countries, has a serious shortage of skilled health staff and health facilities.

During the 24-year Indonesian occupation, which ended in 1999, healthcare facilities were intentionally targeted, with one-third being severely damaged or destroyed entirely.

The healthcare system crumbled and hundreds of doctors and nurses were expelled or fled from the violence.

More than a third of Timor-Leste’s population died, including thousands of mothers, grandmothers and caregivers.

What are the leading causes of infant mortality in Timor-Leste?

Today, many clinics fall well below acceptable standards and lack adequate water, sanitation, and electricity.

More than 70 per cent of the population lives in remote areas, where there are few clinics.

Most of these clinics are difficult to access due to rough dirt roads, and may only be open one or two days each week.

How can we reduce the infant mortality rate in Timor-Leste?

ChildFund Australia is working with communities in Timor-Leste in three main areas to help babies survive:

1. Informing parents and caregivers

Providing parents and caregivers with the information they need to keep their children healthy, through learning and sharing sessions in remote villages. These sessions will teach parents how to prevent the spread of disease, provide the best care, identify when their babies are sick, and how and when to seek a health professional.

2. Preparing communities to act

Keeping communities well informed and ensuring they are ready to act, by producing and distributing easy-to-read guides on common childhood diseases and nutrition.

3. Training Community Health Volunteers

Training Community Health Volunteers in remote villages to ensure there is a health worker available whenever a child gets sick.

Your donation can help us reach more communities and reduce newborn mortality

We’ve already seen the impact of our strategy in the communities where it’s been implemented. We need your help to reach more communities, and continue to reduce newborn mortality. 

Donate to our maternal and newborn health appeal now. It only takes one person to change a life.

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