NATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL, HEADLINE, HEALTH

Timor-Leste’s Integrated Health Program – a path to Universal Health Coverage

Timor-Leste’s Integrated Health Program – a path to Universal Health Coverage

Arvind Mathur, WHO Representative to Timor-Leste

Dr Arvind Mathur, WHO Representative to Timor-Leste

DILI, 11 december 2023 (TATOLI) – Timor-Leste is on the brink of a transformative journey towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) with the roll out of an ambitious Integrated Health Program (IHP). This visionary initiative is designed to strengthening the healthcare system, ensuring that high-quality medical services reach every citizen. As we observe UHC Day under the theme “Health for All, Time for Action,” Timor-Leste’s commitment is evident through the implementation of this program.

UHC is a commitment to providing all individuals with access to necessary health services without facing financial hardships. It is a holistic approach that encompasses the integration of health services, ensuring not only curative but also preventive, promotive, and rehabilitative care. For a country like Timor-Leste, this translates into a collective effort to build a health system that is inclusive, efficient, and resilient.

Consider the Ministry of Health’s groundbreaking move to bring tuberculosis screening to the grassroots using state-of-the-art, artificial intelligence-enabled, portable digital x-ray machines. A mobile TB laboratory has improved screening and active case finding throughout the country, with a focus on not just the people at the grassroots, but also groups that may be otherwise ignored. For instance, the health ministry has rolled out a TB screening initiative for the inmate in the prison in the Ermera district.

Eye care services have been strengthened at the grassroots level through regular outreach programs. The positive impacts of these efforts are evident in the timely diagnosis and intervention for young patients grappling with ophthalmological ailments such as pterygium and lens disorders and elderly individuals afflicted with cataracts.

Timor-Leste has made commendable progress in augmenting the number of hospital beds, including critical care units at referral hospitals, and expanding medical expertise through continuous capacity building. The establishment of the first health simulation-based skills center in Baucau by the Ministry of Health, with plans for additional centers in the country, will play a pivotal role in elevating the quality of medical care in the near future.

Today, we hear numerous testimonies of patients requiring emergency care who have been successfully stabilized at referral hospitals. Healthcare providers are seamlessly integrating learnings from capacity-building sessions and trainings into their everyday practices, thereby saving lives.

With the rollout of the Integrated Health Program, there is a strong conviction that these interventions will be further strengthened through seamless coordination and integration of the program’s key pillars. These pillars include enhancing referral networks, bringing specialist services closer to the community, and focusing on a wide range of topics such as health promotion, prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.

The World Health Organization has been a trusted partner of the Ministry of Health in all these endeavours. As we celebrate UHC Day, I am optimistic that our collective commitment to making quality healthcare accessible to every citizen will be intensified, ensuring a healthier and more prosperous future for Timor-Leste.

 

TATOLI

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