Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific
Responsible for Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu as well as the four Overseas Countries and Territories in the Pacific

European Union and UNICEF focus on improving sanitation and health in Timor-Leste

20/01/2020 - 02:00
News stories

EU, in partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, launch the  plan for the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) strategy at the Convention Centre in the Baucau Municipality. This will directly trigger activities both at institutional level and with Mother Support Group socialization activities. 


Mr. Antonio Guterres, President Municipality of Baucau, dr. Odete da Silva Viegas, General Director of Health Services Ministry of Health, Mr. Simon le Grand, representative of the EU Delegation in Timor-Leste and Valérie Taton, UNICEF Representative in Timor-Leste, were in attendance to launch the activities, which are aimed at improving the health and nutrition status of children and their mothers.

 The ceremony and related activities were organized and facilitated by the President of the Authority of Baucau Municipality and the Director of Municipality Health Services. Fifty-nine suco chiefs, six administrators of Administrative Posts, nine Community Health Centre (CHC) Managers, relevant institutions, partners and community representatives all participated. 


“The European Union well recognises the Timor-Leste Government and Ministry of Health strong commitment toward the reduction of malnutrition, through political declarations and sound national policies. I am pleased to say: "that the development and implementation of the Baucau Municipality "Planu Asaun Komunidade Sanaento no Ljene" is a good example in how to translate these national commitments into appropriate Government financial investment and actions both at central and Municipality levels”, said Mr. Simon Le Grand, Head of Cooperation of European Union in Timor-Leste.


Lack of access to sanitation has real human costs leading to diseases, malnutrition and premature deaths. Recent studies and analysis show a stronger link between open defecation and childhood stunting, which is important for cognitive development and future economic productivity.


In Timor-Leste, respiratory and diarrheal diseases remain the top two causes of infant and child mortality, both of which are strongly linked to inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices. As such, similar activities to those launched today in Baucau will soon be extended to Manatuto and Dili municipalities, too. 


“Improving sanitation is critical for reducing the risk of childhood illnesses and combating malnutrition,” said Ms. Taton. “The 2013 Timor-Leste Food and Nutrition Survey revealed that children living in homes with a toilet have are at lower risk of being stunted as compared to those living in homes without toilets. Community awareness, demand and ownership are crucial in moving away from open defection toward toilet use, and CLTS is globally recognized as a proven approach to make this happen. Linking CLTS with Mother Support Groups is also expected to sustain the municipality’s Open Defecation Free status, to facilitate improved sanitation and to help communities live in a safe and clean environment.” 


The CLTS initiatives in Baucau, Manatuto and Dili are part of the government’s commitment to make Timor-Leste Open Defecation Free by 2020. To drive this goal forward, social and behaviour change communication activities that promote home and family key care practices associated with Nutrition, Maternal, Newborn and Children Health (MNCH), immunization, sanitation and hygiene practices will also be utilised. Mother Support Groups will be established in the three municipalities to assist in promoting these key care practices and to ensure the sustainability of healthy behaviours and practices in the community.


These joint efforts by the Ministry of Health, the Municipality of Baucau, UNICEF and the European Union are part of a long-term strategy, working to improve the health, nutrition and overall wellbeing of every child in Timor-Leste, as well as their families and communities.

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