Timor-Leste Recognized as Most Improved Nation in Health SDGs

December 21st, 2016 | Viewpoint


Timor-Leste gained its independence from Indonesia in 1999 and became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century. Its independence was achieved after 25 years of warfare characterized by massive loss of life, major destruction, and internal conflict.

Sixteen years have passed since then and between 2000 and 2015 Timor-Leste made significant progress in rebuilding its nation—and on the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. In fact, since 2000, Timor-Leste made the largest absolute improvements in the health-related SDGs.

Timor-Leste was rated as the most improved of 188 nations in the health-related Sustainable Development Goals index for the period 2000-2015. This was based on a study, presented at the United Nations in September 2016 and published in the Lancet Medical Journal.

This achievement was primarily based on improvements in skilled birth attendants, under five and neonatal mortality, childhood stunting, met need with modern contraception, risk exposure to unsafe water and sanitation, universal health coverage tracer interventions, and mortality from war and conflict.

During this 16-year journey, Timor-Leste was able to recover from almost total destruction of their health system. John Snow, Inc. (JSI) has been fortunate to work with the Government of Timor-Leste (GOTL) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) as well as with the United States Agency for International Development, development partners, UN agencies, and nongovernmental organizations to provide technical assistance to address some of the major health problems in the country.  JSI’s team has worked for more than a decade to provide assistance to improve family health, including the health of mothers, newborns, children, and adolescents.

The programs JSI has managed include the following:

  1. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Basic Support for Instituting Child Survival (BASICS) and IMMUNIZATIONbasics jointly implemented Timor-Leste Integrated Maternal and Child Health Care Project (TAIS I&II), 2005 to 2011.
  2. The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Threshold Project on Immunization through USAID’s global Maternal and Child Integrated Program (MCHIP), from April 2011 to October 2013.
  3. The USAID funded Health Improvement Project, from 2011 to 2015.
  4. And currently, the USAID-funded Timor-Leste Reinforce Basic Health Services Project (scheduled to end in 2020).
Delivering Health Services in Timor Leste
Delivering Health Services in Timor Leste.

JSI is honored to partner with the GOTL on its journey of nation building.

We have the opportunity to continue our technical assistance with the MOH to develop and implement a model municipality which successfully and autonomously implements the country’s maternal, newborn, and child health strategies and related policies. We also work with the Timor-Leste National Institute of Health which is providing health workers across the country with training in family planning, maternal, newborn, and child health, competency-based certification, and on-the-job support.

Congratulations to our colleagues at the GOTL. Your focus on health is paying off for the women and children of Timor-Leste.

Written by Reginald Gipson

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