Subject: ABC: Timor seeks more health help


Last Update: Thursday, August 4, 2005. 7:37pm (AEST)

Timor seeks more health help

East Timor's first lady, Kirsty Sword Gusmao, has appealed to Australia for more aid funds for the country's maternal and child health programs.

The nation's Health Ministry has found the average woman there gives birth to about eight children, blaming a lack of knowledge of contraception for the trend.

The study predicts the country's population growth will double within two decades to nearly 2 million and place a serious strain on the country's resources.

Ms Sword Gusmao says the need for more funding is urgent.

"Commitment of further aid funds and a specific allocation of funds towards maternal and child health programs would be very useful," she said.

"Obviously in terms of the commitment of civil society organisations, international organisations, non-government organisation's in Australia too, I think a greater focus on maternal and child health initiatives would be imperative."


East Torrens Messenger (Australia)

August 3, 2005 Wednesday


NEW mothers in East Timor are receiving much-needed help from a project spearheaded locally by Maureen O'Flaherty.

Mrs O'Flaherty, president of the Magill Sunrise Rotary Club, is doing her bit to help those in need with help from other local clubs.

After contacting major suppliers for cheap goods, Mrs O'Flaherty developed a "maternity kit" for new mothers.

At a cost of $50 each, the kit contains a maternity bra, briefs, nappies, singlets and rompers.

She is also organising sheets to be hemmed into baby wraps.

A number of kits have already been sent.

And a large container is waiting on approval from the East Timorese government before it can be distributed.

The kits are distributed through the Dili and Bacau hospitals.

Ninety per cent of births in East Timor happen at home, without skilled attendants and without clothing for the baby.

On top of this, East Timorese women face poverty, poor health and education, and physical and sexual abuse.

"We are hoping to increase the awareness of the plight of these women and in some small way to provide help for their immediate situation," she said.

The project is run through the Alola Foundation, which was established in 2001 by East Timor's first lady Kirsty Sword Gusmao.

It is named after a girl kidnapped and raped amid the violence of September 1999, and aims to raise awareness of the problems faced by East Timorese women.

East Timor has one of the highest fertility rates in the world of 7.5 children per family but 12 per cent of children die before they are five.

"For women around the world giving birth to a new baby should be a time of joy and hope," Mrs O'Flaherty said.

Mrs O'Flaherty has appealed to people to help by donating money, sheets, or their time. Details: 8363 6960.


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