About MCH

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Fundasaun Alola established its Maternal and Child Health Section in February 2003 through the creation of the National Breastfeeding Association (NBFA). Since 2006 Fundasaun Alola has extended its MCH program to include maternity packs, women's health and newborn care.

NBFA was handed over to the Ministry of Health (MoH) Nutrition Department in 2009. To facilitate the handover process, Fundasaun Alola has seconded a senior staff member for two days to work with the MoH. The staff member will assist in coordinating and organizing the implementation of Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), providing breastfeeding training for health workers and advocating for a breastfeeding policy and an international code for breastmilk substitutes.

Infant and young child feeding is a global strategy that was adopted by Timor Leste in 2006. It is now a national program at MoH under the Nutrition Department and Fundasaun Alola is responsible for running it across the country. Fundasaun Alola is involved in the training of health care workers in infant and young child feeding and Alola also established Maternal and Child Health Community-Based Groups, specifically Mothers Support Groups (MSG) and Suku Hadomi Inan no Oan (Village Loves it Mother and Children) (SHIO). These groups are the target to disseminate the information to encourage and support mothers to initiate breastfeeding immediately after delivery, to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life and to continue breastfeeding for at least two years along with introduction of appropriate complementary feeding.MCHprogramcover

In the context of encouraging national and international interest in improving the health and nutritional status of women and children in Timor-Leste, the Alola Foundation is proud about its particular contribution to improving maternal and child health.

Infant mortality rates are still unacceptably high with 45 children out of every 1,000 live births failing to celebrate their first birthday. More mothers need to receive pre and post-partum care (57% in urban areas; 24% in districts). The burden of ill health still rests disproportionally on women and children living in rural areas, with 61 deaths per 1,000 live births in rural areas compared to 42 deaths per 1,000 live births in urban areas. Malnourishment remains extremely high with 27% of women estimated to be malnourished; 45% of children under 5 underweight; and, 58% of children under 5 identified with stunted growth.

Based on the understanding that community participation and empowerment is critical to addressing these challenges, the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) program utilizes a range of strategies directed at multiple levels: nationally and within districts; within health facilities including hospitals, community health centre and local health posts and, within the broader community.