Integrating Child Spacing with Maternal Care in Timor-Leste
In 2006, when we launched a program in partnership with the Timorese Ministry of Health to promote the healthy timing and spacing of children in Timor-Leste, maternal mortality was estimated at 660 per 100,000 live births. Infant mortality was 80 to 90 per 1,000 live births, and 120 children per 1,000 died before reaching age five.
Use of health services were very low:
- only 61 percent of women received any care during pregnancy
- fewer than 1 in 5 used a skilled birth attendant
- fewer than 1 in 10 gave birth at a health facility
The high fertility rate also contributed to maternal mortality. The average Timorese woman had 7.8 children. Not surprisingly, contraceptive use was correspondingly low: only 8 percent of women were current users of any method.
Knowledge of how to space pregnancies was also minimal. Our first step was to organize a qualitative community assessment to gather information on the Timorese people's experiences, knowledge, beliefs and practices vis-à-vis family planning. We then used this information to inform and direct program activities.
Read more about the challenges and successes of our work with the Ministry of Health and Timorese communities in introducing famiy planning in post-conflict, post-occupation Timor-Leste here (PDF, 2MB).