|Subject: AFP: Timor-Leste faces shortage of
Also: East Timor: WHO membership will help combat high infant mortality, says minister
Agence France Presse
October 1, 2002 Tuesday
Timor -Leste faces shortage of doctors
GENEVA, Oct 1
Newly-independent Timor -Leste, formerly East Timor, has just 47 doctors for its 850,000 citizens because of large-scale emigration, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.
As the country became its 192nd member, WHO estimated infant mortality at 70 to 95 deaths per 1,000 live births.
It also said the mortality rate of children under five was "unacceptably high".
"Communicable diseases account for the majority of deaths," Rui Maria de Araujo, Timor -Leste's minister of health, said in a written statement released by the Geneva-based WHO.
The most common childhood illnesses are acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases and malaria, while tuberculosis is a major health problem for children and adults.
An estimated eight mothers die of complications related to childbirth for every 1,000 live births, and there was an urgent need to put an anti-HIV/AIDS programme in place, the UN health agency added.
Current rates of infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are low but WHO said the government was determined to take all necessary steps to prevent an increase.
"Addressing the shortage of health workers is another key to improving health in Timor -Leste," WHO said, adding it continued to help with recruitment and training.
East Timor, now officially called the Democratic Republic of Timor -Leste, was admitted into the United Nations on September 27 as its 191st member following its independence in May.
The country has a young population with just over 48 percent of its citizens under 17 years. Average life expectancy is 57, and 85 percent of the population lives in rural areas.
Much of East Timor's infrastructure was destroyed by departing Indonesian security forces and their militias after East Timor voted in August 1999 to separate from Indonesia.
East Timor: WHO membership will help combat high infant mortality, says minister
East Timor became a member of the World Health Organization Tuesday and the new nation`s health minister says he hopes his country can benefit from the sharing of experiences with other members of the organization.
Rui Araujo said that Timor`s WHO membership will help Dili tackle various health sector problems, the most pressing being maternal and infant health.
Respiratory diseases cause most deaths in Timor at the moment, said Araujo, adding that respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, malaria and dengue fever were the most common illnesses among Timorese children.
Infant mortality in East Timor, which became the United Nations`191st member last week, is "unacceptably high", at between 70 and 95 deaths per thousand births, according to the WHO.
Director-general of the WHO, Gro Harlem Brundtland, welcomed Timor`s membership of her organization, which, she hoped, would help reduce health problems in the new nation.
Currently, there are only 47 doctors in the whole of East Timor and the WHO plans to help in the recruitment and training of health care professionals, particularly in the area of respiratory disease.
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