Timor Leste – Newborn care training programmes

Empowering women with vital knowledge around pregnancy and child birth

Due to its post-conflict legacy, Timor-Leste remains the poorest country in the Asia-Pacific region. Almost half of the country’s children under five-years-old are underweight, and the infant, maternal and child mortality rates remain high.

Belinda Jennings, a clinical midwifery consultant working in Timor-Leste, shared how our films are being used to develop the skills and knowledge of health workers and the mothers they care for  – helping to improve the health status of women and children in the poorest communities.

Our films have been incorporated into a newborn care training programme and used as part of the national emergency obstetric care refresher training course. They are also used in classroom/small group training, 1-1 mentoring and training, and have been installed on computers so that staff can access content regularly.

In an effort to improve high levels of maternal and child mortality, it is also important to empower women and their communities with vital knowledge around pregnancy and child birth and caring for babies and young children. Our film “Understanding Breast Feeding” is shown several times a week at the Hospital National Guido Valadre, where there are 5,000 births each year. The films are also used by a women’s empowerment organisation, Fundasaun Alola, who establish Mothers Support Groups (MSG) and Suku Hadomi Inan no Oan groups (Village Loves Mother and Children) to encourage exclusive breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding and nutrition.

Since their introduction, the films have been translated locally into Tetum and continue to receive thousands of views each year, empowering local communities with easily understandable and setting appropriate lifesaving skills and knowledge.

“They are enormously appreciated and feature in our evaluations of the training repeatedly… the films are effective as a learning strategy and enjoyed by the staff”. 

Belinda Jennings, Clinical Midwifery Consultant, Department of Health Australia