Investing in People: Health & Education
USAID works with Timor-Leste to improve health outcomes, particularly for women and children under the age of 5. With its record of strong performance and effective participation with government and civil society counterparts, USAID's health program has achieved a high level of success in improving the quality of health services for the Timorese people. This long-term investment is focused on strengthening health services, particularly in the districts, by providing Timorese health care specialists with training and supportive supervision in maternal, neonatal, and child health, and reproductive health. USAID also works with civil society using innovative methods to mobilize the communities to take advantage of health services and to influence positive healthy behavior changes. These, in turn, support a healthier and more productive population that contributes positively to their society. USAID has also embarked on a game-changing effort that uses mobile phone technology to get health messages to pregnant and new mothers.
USAID is a leader in health care systems strengthening in Timor-Leste among donors, including the World Bank, the European Union, Portugal and Australia. Based on the effectiveness of USAID's health program, AusAID funds more than 25% of USAID's flagship health care systems strengthening project.
Heath indicators are improving in Timor-Leste but are still among the worst in the world, especially for women and children, with persisting high maternal mortality and child mortality rates. Low vaccination coverage, complications during the neo-natal period, pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria on a background of high rates of malnutrition are the main contributors to under-5 mortality rates. Timor-Leste also has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, and it has the highest stunting (height-for-weight) rates in the world. High fertility rates, particularly when associated with short intervals between births, increase morbidity and mortality of women and newborns. The under-5 mortality rate in Timor-Leste has been dropping steadily to 64/1000 live births. While still very high, UNICEF's 2011 Child Mortality Report stated that this decline in the under-5 mortality rate is the biggest reduction worldwide between 1990 and 2010. USAID continues to help Timor-Leste tackle the causes of Timor-Leste's serious health problems.
Maternal and Child Health
USAID provides support to enhance the district service delivery by improving quality and coverage of maternal and child health interventions to reduce neonatal, child and maternal mortality rates. All activities focus on strengthening district service delivery, particularly the Ministry of Health’s community health outreach program for increasing coverage in remote areas. At the district level, USAID supports primary health care providers and communities, particularly women of reproductive age and children under 5. USAID assistance:
- supports the Ministry of Health to improve the organization and implementation of community health outreach activities and increase community participation.
- provides supportive supervision at the district level to expand the skills of community health workers.
- enhances the adoption of positive health and nutrition behaviors through behavior change communication.
- works with the Ministry of Health to improve its planning for service delivery, data collection, management, and analysis of activities.
Family Planning and Reproductive Services
USAID supports the government by providing technical assistance to enhance the quality and delivery of family planning and reproductive services. USAID assistance:
- provides training and supportive supervision to health workers and midwives on counseling.
- helps health workers better communicate the benefits of child spacing and family planning.
- works with the Ministry of Health to improve its data collection, management, and analysis of activities.
Demographic and Health Survey
USAID leads the support to the the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance to conduct the Demographic and Health Survey on a regular basis. The survey is an invaluable tool to track progress in health outcomes. The next survey is due in 2013/4.
Country Coordinating Mechanism for the Global Fund
USAID provides technical assistance to the government of Timor-Leste to implement the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) of the Global Fund, and a USAID staff member sits on the CCM Executive Committee and chairs the Oversight Committee. The CCM guides and monitors implementation of Global Fund grants by the principal recipient to fight the three diseases targeted by the Global Fund: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, all prevalent in Timor-Leste.
USAID is committed to helping the Timorese acquire more advanced skills in order to address the gaps within businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. Improved skills will help Timor-Leste compete with its neighbors and meet the economic, political and social challenges it faces as the country progresses.
USAID has introduced a pilot project to improve educational effectiveness by finding out why children drop out of school. The project identifies the best ways to improve education programs so that students stay in school longer to build the skills base and entrepreneurial abilities of its young people. Based on a detailed analysis of enrollment data, the project hasimplement a series of pilot activities to identify the most effective ways to reduce the drop-out rate.
USAID is implementing a scholarship program that provides academic degrees and short-term technical training to Timorese youth and young professionals. The program will address critical human capacity needs in Timor-Leste by providing the country with a pool of individuals whose increased knowledge and skills will advance the country’s social and economic development, particularly as it relates to Government of Timor-Leste’s development priorities and the strategic objectives of USAID/Timor-Leste.
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