September 6, 2023

Dili, August 23, 2023 – The Government of Timor-Leste, through the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, is embarking on improving the quality and standards of midwifery education to bring down the maternal mortality rates in the country, with a potential South-South cooperation with the Government of Thailand and its Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), facilitated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Timor-Leste and Thailand country offices. To initiate this partnership, a delegation from TICA visited Timor-Leste for a two-day assessment mission to visit midwifery schools; National University of Timor-Leste, Instituto Superior Cristal (ISC) and Health Science Institute (ICS).

Speaking during the opening of a four-day curricula and faculty development workshop for midwifery educators in Dili, ahead of the midwifery assessment mission, Ms. Rachel Smith, a midwifery specialist from Burnet Institute observed:

Thailand International Cooperation Agency delegation during assessment mission in Timor-Leste. ©UNFPA Timor-Leste

The impact of midwives is substantial if they are educated, regulated to global standards, and if they are part of midwifery associations.

With Timor-Leste having one of the highest maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Asia at 195 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to Timor-Leste Demographic Health Survey (TL DHS 2016), the partnership will enable both Thailand and Timor-Leste to leverage on learning experiences through South-South cooperation for safe motherhood.

Similarly, Timor-Leste is set to benefit from Thailand’s experience in providing technical assistance on maternal health and networking with other countries in the region as well as establishing links with TICA.

“In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Timor-Leste National Public Health Institute (INSP-TL), the UNFPA has supported midwifery curriculum development and formulation of national guidelines for midwifery training in Timor-Leste, establishment of basic skills laboratories and capacity development of midwifery educators – including their participation in national, regional and international level trainings and workshops,” said Pressia Arifin-Cabo, UNFPA Country Representative in Timor-Leste. “UNFPA has also supported the National Midwifery Association of Timor-Leste (APTL) with the development of midwifery competency standards that conform to international standards and its registration as a member of International Confederation of Midwives (ICM),” she added.

Midwives are crucial in ending preventable deaths during and after childbirth and achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.1 – that aims to reduce global deaths due to complications from pregnancy and child births ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.

Complications related to pregnancy can be prevented if proper investment in midwifery education is prioritised. In Timor-Leste, UNFPA continues to support midwifery education and the National Midwifery Association of Timor-Leste (APTL) since its establishment.

Through this South-South cooperation, the capacity of teaching faculty in midwifery schools and teaching and learning methodologies will be enhanced by focusing on human resources development activities to increase the quality of care by midwives, therefore improving the quality of life of mothers and babies and end preventable maternal and infant deaths.

For more information, contact:

  • Suleiman Okoth, Communications and Programme Support Specialist, UNFPA Timor-Leste
  • Mobile: +67075169796 | Email:

Originally posted by UNFPA. To access the original article, please click here.