Australia – Medical assistance programs changing lives in East Timor

Villagers in East Timor’s remote Oecussi enclave have received life changing medical support through a multi-national medical program delivered by the US-sponsored Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10), the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) and the East Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL), with support from the Defence Cooperation Program (DCP).

More than one thousand villagers were treated over three days, and two children with life threatening illnesses were immediately evacuated by helicopter to Ministry of Health hospitals.

The Oecussi activities were part of an ongoing campaign of Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAPs), which was established to provide care for ill villagers and train local health providers operating under the F-FDTL and East Timorese Ministry of Health.

The Oecussi MEDCAP was the focus for the August campaign, and villagers from Nitibe, Maquelab, Oalkaen and Baqui received critical medical treatment.

Brisbane-based Australian Defence Force Medical Officer Captain Carl Bryant, who is currently deployed to the ISF, said MEDCAPs not only improve the wellbeing of individuals, but build the community.

“We facilitate the East Timorese in transporting their medication and staff out to areas they can’t get to and we also help build the capacity of the F-FDTL to help their own people in the planning and running of medical support programs.

“Heightening the ability of the ministry of health and F-FDTL through training ensures we are having a long-lasting impact on the people and that really makes it worthwhile,” Captain Bryant added.

United States Navy Commander Peter Shumaker, Officer in Charge of the PP10 led MEDCAP at Baqui said optometry, dental, dermalogical, congenital and surgical conditions have been assessed.

“We have seen a full range of conditions but working with our partners has been tremendous. It is the reason we are here. It’s also a vehicle to strengthen ties and increase the interoperability between ourselves, the ADF and F-FDTL,” said Commander Shumaker.

PP10 is in East Timor conducting humanitarian assistance endeavours for two weeks.

Australia’s DCP with East Timor, in coordination with the ISF, is assisting the Government of East Timor to strengthen the capacity of its national defence force and Secretariat of Defence.

Media contact
Defence Media Liaison 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

Press release
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, Australia

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