Timor-Leste lies to the north west of Australia across the Timor Sea. It is home to 1,269,000 people (2016).

Since Timor-Leste’s independence in 2002, Australia has been its largest development partner, helping to provide basic healthcare and nutrition.

Health challenges

Approximately 30 per cent of the population of Timor-Leste lives below the poverty line of USD 88 cents a day. Life expectancy in 2018 was 67 for males and 71 for females.

Malaria incidences in Timor-Leste have dropped dramatically in the last two decades, falling from a high of 223,002 cases in 2006, to zero cases in 2018.

The major health problems currently affecting Timor-Leste according to the World Health Organization include:

  • tuberculosis (TB), which is a major public health problem. In 2017, there were an estimated at 498 cases of TB per 100,000 people. Nearly 50 per cent of cases in Timor-Leste go untreated.
  • a high maternal mortality rate.
  • nutrition, with nearly 50 per cent of children under five experiencing stunting.
  • limited access to clean water and basic sanitation, which contributes to the spread of infectious diseases, such as diarrhoea.
  • sexually transmitted infections (STIs)**, which are common in sexually active age groups, mostly in the Dili and Baucau districts.

Timor-Leste had 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of May 15 2020, all had recovered, leaving Timor-Leste with zero active cases.

Burnet’s work

We are involved in a range of public health projects focused on sexual and reproductive health, young people’s health, maternal and child health and infectious diseases such as malaria, through our Centres for International Health and Immunology.

In Timor-Leste, many women lose their lives during childbirth due to limited resources. The vast majority of deliveries (70 per cent) are conducted at home without a skilled birth attendant and most women do not receive post delivery visits to check on their health or that of their child.

Midwifery training in Timor-Leste

Image: Burnet conducted midwifery training in Timor-Leste in 2019

Burnet is involved in providing expert technical assistance and organisational development support for HADIAK (Strengthening Districts in the Implementation of Primary Health Care Activities).

Contact Details

For more information about our work in Timor-Leste, please contact:

Burnet Institute

[email protected]





Current Projects

  • Building capacity and improving tuberculosis diagnosis in Timor-Leste

  • Gender Counts

  • Improving Tuberculosis Services in Timor-Leste

  • Rapid review of maternal health recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Review of Midwifery Curricula Timor-Leste

  • Sexual and reproductive health in Asia and the Pacific