Improved Leprosy Services

Timor Leste

The new project, Improved Leprosy Services in Timor Leste (ILS), will keep up the work of the Better Health project (which concluded in 2019) in three districts, and expand to a fourth – Manatuto – which has seen a worrying trend of emerging leprosy cases recently.

The ILS project will also develop an exit-strategy for The Leprosy Mission Timor Leste’s engagement with the Ministry of Health, in order to promote sustainability.

The Better Health project worked to eliminate leprosy in the high-endemic districts of Dili, Baucau and Oecusse. Working as the official partner of the Timorese Ministry of Health in the National Leprosy Control Program, Better Health strengthened early detection of leprosy to help minimise transmission and disability in affected communities.

Last year, the project achieved the following:
• Leprosy information material distributed to 41,937 people
• 25,817 people screened for leprosy
• 102 new cases of leprosy diagnosed
• 191 health workers trained in leprosy detection and management

Social Return on Investment
The Better Health project screened household members and neighbours of people newly diagnosed with leprosy, in order to catch further cases quickly. At a cost of $3.25 each, 445 people were screened.

Australian Aid Supported by the Australian Government
The Better Health Project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). Thanks to ANCP, this project is able to help improve the well-being of people affected by leprosy and disability in Timor Leste.


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The Leprosy Mission in Timor Leste

Timor Leste (pronounced Tee-more Less-tay) is a country in Southeast Asia located about 640km north-west of Darwin, Australia.  Due to many years of political unrest and a long independence struggle with Indonesia, Timor Leste is continuing to rebuild its infrastructure and economy.

The Leprosy Mission Timor Leste has been fighting the spread of leprosy in the country for more than 20 years and is currently committed to eliminating leprosy to align with the Leprosy Mission’s global goals of zero transmission, zero disability and zero discrimination by 2035. The project is building on The Leprosy Mission Timor Leste's previous ‘Better health for communities affected by leprosy project’ that was implemented in 5 municipalities, to further expand this work to the entire country with the overall objective of reducing leprosy cases and related disabilities in Timor-Leste.

In Timor-Leste, leprosy is not given priority by the Ministry of Health (MOH) which has resulted in limited funding, poor coordination and case management of leprosy. Additionally, there is limited capacity of health professionals to detect and manage leprosy and a lack of awareness and knowledge regarding leprosy at national, sub-national, community and all levels of health providers.

There has been an increase in Grade 2 disabilities as a result of leprosy and increase in the number of children detected among new cases. Timor-Leste has four municipalities with high leprosy prevalence rates and with a high rate of Grade 2 disability among new leprosy cases, indicating late detection. People with disabilities (from leprosy) living in communities also have a limited understanding of how to prevent disabilities.

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