A mother in Timor-Leste “has a one in 35 chance of dying in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications compared to Australian women who face a one in 13,300 risk.” (UNICEF, State Of The World's Children Report 2009).
This statistic demonstrates huge risks that pregnant women face in Timor-Leste. With a fertility rate of 7.8 live births per woman and with up to 90% of women giving birth at home, this statistic affects every extended family in Timor-Leste. Alola is working with the Ministry of Health and other agencies to encourage women to attend health facilities for antenatal care and to give birth in hospitals. Our maternity pack program is one initiative to encourage women to give birth at one of the major hospitals in Timor-Leste.
However, women in rural areas most often rely on traditional birth attendants or family members, and often do not access midwifery assistance available at local health centers and health posts. Alola’s Mother Support Group members are crucial in providing important information and services to women in rural areas.
In 2006 Fundasaun Alola began distributing maternity packs for Dili and Baucau hospitals with the objective of supporting safe hospital birth. Alola recruited staff at the Taibessi sewing center to produce the packs. Maternity packs are distributed monthly as requested by hospitals. They were also distributed to the SHIO program in Liquica. Since 2006 the total distribution for two years is 11,288 packs. Fundasaun Alola also trained MSG members to provide counseling for the women who received maternity packs in both Dili and Baucau hospitals to ensure that they were given appropriate information.
Suku Hadomi Inan ho Oan (SHIO)
In 2007/2008, the MCH piloted a community based safe motherhood initiative called Suku Hadomi Inan ho Oan (SHIO), which literally translates as ‘the village loves its mothers and children.’ SHIO encourages community leaders to take responsibility for registering pregnant women, developing safe delivery plans, and addressing access issues for antenatal, delivery and post natal care. SHIO members also support activities run by the Ministry of Health in their suco (sub-district) on monthly basis.