December 23, 1999
Dili, East Timor — Each day, hundreds of refugees still return from West Timor many needing medical attention for malaria, diarrhea, chest infections, and other ailments. They will continue to receive assistance upon arrival, but now it will be in a new site with a team made up of Timorese doctors and nurses.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) brought in international emergency medical teams to start consulting as soon as security allowed in September of 1999. From the beginning, they have worked closely with Timorese health professionals and provided on-the-job training. To date, MSF teams have treated more than 6,000 patients, seeing an average of 620 people each week.
"This is a good team. We are working hard until the last arrivals come in," said East Timorese physician Carla Quintao. "I am working with a non-governmental organization that helps Timorese people. I am a doctor. I am not working for money but for my people."
In Liquica, MSF runs a clinic together with Timorese staff. Clinics have also been opened at Ulmera, Fatumasi, and Maubara. Eleven Timorese nurses assure general consultations, dressings, ante-natal counseling, and day-to-day observation. Mobile teams regularly visit outlying areas.
In Baucau, MSF has helped to rehabilitate and re-establish services with an out-patient department and 111 beds at the central hospital. Working closely with Timorese staff, the hospital assures services in surgery, maternity and a lab. Mobile teams go out to support other parts of the district.
MSF also helps to provide assistance, materials and training in Maliana and Viqueque hospitals and clinics. MSF teams are also working in border camps in West Timor.
As the crisis period ends, MSF is moving with the East Timorese towards re-establishing regular health services. Timorese staff are they key component to health care in East Timor.