Timor-Leste is one of the youngest nations in the world, gaining independence in 2002. The country has made significant improvements to the lives and wellbeing of its population since independence, yet many challenges remain. This includes high rates of maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy.
Nearly 70% of married women in Timor-Leste want to delay having children or not have any more at all, yet only 22% are using any form of modern contraception. This is one of the lowest contraceptive prevalence rates in the Asia Pacific region.
Since 2007 we have been one of the leading sexual and reproductive healthcare organisations in Timor-Leste. Our centre in Dili, contact centre, and outreach teams provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare, education, counselling and services. Our national youth hotline, celebrating its tenth year of operations in 2021, continues to act as a key information source for young people, with 64% of callers under 25 years old.
A strong partnership with the Timor-Leste government is critical to our success. Marie Stopes Timor-Leste, with longstanding support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health to not only increase access to vital services, but also set quality of care standards and best practice across the national health system.
People living in rural areas have been known to walk hours to access government facilities, where we work in close partnership with Ministry of Health staff to deliver services. Much of the country is mountainous and hard to reach, so outreach remains our most effective way of serving those who can’t travel long distances to us.
Our outreach program in Timor-Leste is extensive. Every month our dedicated teams travel to vulnerable communities by foot, motorbike, car and boat to provide family planning and reproductive health services. Where possible, we will also work through community health centres, village health posts, and public hospitals.
To combat stigma and cultural taboos about sexual and reproductive health, our outreach teams use advance demand generation. Under this approach, a specialist educator travels to communities to run small-group activities introducing participants to family planning, and dispelling myths or misconceptions. The educator runs these activities a week before our service delivery teams arrive, giving participants time to reflect on the contraceptive methods available, and to choose which may be right for them.
Many thousands of people in Timor-Leste have come to rely on us as their only source of trusted family planning and sexual health information and services.
of total demand for family planning in 2021 was met by MSI
unintended pregnancies averted
unsafe abortions averted
people were using a family planning method provided by MSI