UN’s Support to Universities Aims to Save Mothers, Children in Timor-Leste Featured

By Adelaide dos Santos January 30, 2024 285


DILI: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative in Timor-Leste Pressia Arifin-Cabo said on Friday the UN is funding the expansion of midwifery schools at universities in Timor-Leste that is predicted to help thousands of mothers and their children in the coming years.

Some 195 women die per 100,000 births of pregnancy-related problems in Timor-Leste, according to the UNFPA. Common causes are bleeding after childbirth, infections, complications from delivery and high blood pressure during pregnancy.

“Ensuring that midwives are well-trained and have adequate skills to attend especially to complications during birth, are key in bringing down these indicators,” UNFPA said in a statement.

The UNFPA maternal mortality initiative provides birthing simulation equipment to three midwifery schools in Timor-Leste to improve skills in safe delivery, including training to perform life-saving procedures including caesarean sections.

“Midwives and people with midwifery skills are the main caregivers for women and their newborns during pregnancy, labour, childbirth and in the post-delivery period. Yet they do not just deliver babies: Well-trained midwives can provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services and play a critical role in promoting health within their communities,” said Pressia Arifin-Cabo, during the handover. 

Timor-Leste has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Southeast Asia – only 57% of births are attended by qualified health professionals. The UNFPA said that 30 newborn babies per 1000 born die.

The Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Culture, José Honório da Costa Pereira Jerónimo said the UNFPA’s show of support was welcomed and reflected his government’s objectives.

" The IX government remains steadfast in its commitment to elevating the quality of higher education throughout the nation," said Jerónimo at the handover.

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