EAST TIMOR: Salesian Medical Clinic Provides Health Services to Thousands of Poor Patients
(MissionNewswire) East Timor has endured a decades-long civil war and is home to 1.1 million people. According to the United Nations Development Program Human Development Index, in 2007, East Timor ranked 162 out of 182 countries for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living. The World Bank estimates that East Timor has just over 49 percent of its population living in poverty with over one-third of the population regularly experiencing food shortages.
Access to nutrition, education and health services is essential to creating a sustainable society and optimistic future. Salesians in the country have been providing programs to help residents recover and rebuild in the wake of a devastating civil war that claimed countless lives, decimated entire communities and resulted in living conditions that are among the worst in the world. Since the violence has subsided, efforts are being focused on helping the needy, restoring hope and providing new opportunities for the future.
“The Salesians are engaged in a wide range of programs to improve the lives of the people of East Timor,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Poor youth and their families receive support at community health centers, orphanages, parishes and youth centers. In addition, classes are conducted in primary, secondary, technical and agricultural schools – many of which provide room and board to their students.”
The Maria Auxiliadora Medical Clinic in Venilale, East Timor is vital to the local community as well as 13 surrounding villages. In 2012, the clinic provided care to 8,256 poor patients in need of health services. The program takes special care providing for mothers and babies and frequently delivers baby boxes containing essential baby care products to families in need. The clinic also provides free community education focusing on first aid, health issues and family planning.
Recently, staff at the medical clinic attended to 24 cases of tuberculosis which remains a concern for the medical staff and entire community. Not long bfore that, the clinic had to renovate due to damage sustained by heavy rain and wind. Thanks to donations and other funding, the clinic was able to repair the damage and continue to serve the community. Donated materials including bandages, gloves, needles, medicinal creams and hygiene products were very much appreciated by the staff and used effectively to treat patients.
“The health of the young people we serve is very important to us,” adds Fr. Hyde. “The work we do in East Timor and in programs around the globe goes beyond education. We serve the whole person by making sure the basic needs of health and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs.”
This clinic is one of more than 200 medical clinics and hospitals, mostly in rural areas, that handle a wide range of medical care needs and are operated by the Salesians. One such need, the care of Leprosy, otherwise known as Hensen’s disease, has been a concern for well over 100 years. Salesian leper hospitals and leprosy control programs can be found in Brazil, Colombia, India, Thailand, Macau and a number of nations in Africa. HIV/ AIDS prevention programs are also part of the Salesian health care work in Africa. In many countries with Salesian programs, additional dental and other necessary health services are offered.
The Australian Salesian Mission Overseas Aid Fund 2013 Newsletter
Salesian Missions – East Timor
World Bank – East Timor