Women in Timor-Leste face huge maternal health challenges, with as many as 570 women dying per 100,000 live births, the highest rate of death due to birth in South-East Asia. High fertility rates, lack of family planning, low access to antenatal and postnatal services, lack of basic emergency obstetric care, and high levels of malnutrition in women all contribute to the high maternal mortality rates.
While the government has comprehensive SRMH policies and strategies, implementation is challenging, especially in rural areas. Barriers include a lack of quality services, low utilisation of services, lack of participation in family planning decision-making, and deeply ingrained gender norms.
The rights to health is one of CARE’S priority impact areas. We believe that everyone has the right to life and health, and as a result access to sexual, reproductive and maternal health. CARE’s health programmes work at personal, social and structural levels to ensure that all individuals realise these rights.
CARE in Timor-Leste has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Health since 2004 to strengthen SRMHR by focussing on improving equitable access to family planning; strengthening services to meet the supply and demand, and improving nutrition through education and kitchen gardens.