Four-year-old Dozia lives with her parents and her siblings in Lenuk-Hun, an Aldeia (hamlet) part of Suco (village) Camea in the Municipality of Dili. Located in the mountain, Dozia’s family has a privileged panoramic view of the city of Dili, Timor-Leste’s capital.
However, despite living close to Dili, Lenuk-Hun is rather isolated, with the road conditions making it hard to reach — no public transport arrives here. It takes the families in Lenuk-Hun, over 100 households, about one hour to walk to the closest market and access to health facilities
In 2016, Dozia was sick and her mother brought her to the Becora Community Health Centre (CHC) in Dili for a medical check-up, where they found she was malnourished. The health staff provided Dozia with Plumpy Sup, a ready-to-use food (RUSF) from the World Food Programme (WFP) to treat children under the age of five for moderate acute malnutrition. Dozia consumed the RUSF regularly for two months and successfully recovered. However, given the access difficulties, her mother did not bring her back for follow-up checks after her recovery.
On 27th of June 2018, when Dozia’s mother, Aliansa, brought Dozia to the mobile clinic at Lenuk-Hun for check-up and a health and nutrition education session, the health staff found that she was malnourished again. Dozia was re-admitted into the treatment programme and provided with 30 sachets of supplementary food, and her mother was asked to come back to the Community Health Centre (CHC) for follow-up on her status after one month.
“She likes the food; she has no problem consuming it,” said Aliansa. Health staff also provided Aliansa with information on healthy and nutritious feeding practices to help Dozia recover and prevent her from becoming malnourished again, highlighting the need to have a diverse diet.
“Nutritious meals are key for both physical and mental development of a child and its impact on child performance at school,” says Inacio Dos Santos, WFP Field Support Officer for Dili Municipality. During the mobile clinics, WFP supports health staff to organize health promotion activities and cooking demonstrations to show how to prepare nutritious meals for children with locally available foods.
Bringing health services closer to families
Community outreach health services such as Mobile Clinics and the Integrated Community Health Service (Servisu Integradu Saude Comunitaria — SISCa) are crucial in bringing healthcare closer to those in isolated areas, while promoting diverse diets for good health among children and pregnant and nursing women.
Dozia’s family lives a long way from the nearest market, and this distance has significantly impacted on her family’s ability to access and consume nutritious food. “In the morning, we normally have local bread and for lunch and dinner often only eat plain rice. Her father is a fisherman, but even so we consume fish and meat very rarely. If we want to buy vegetables, we have to walk down to Becora which will take us about 2–3 hours return,” says Aliansa.
“We restarted the Mobile Clinic and Health Promotion activities at Lenuk-Hun in March. The programme stopped for four years, and even now we only do it once a month, but it also depends on transport availability,” says Agostinho da Costa Tilman, Health Promotion Officer from CHC Becora. “Today luckily our friends from WFP facilitated our transport to hold a cooking demonstration and health promotion activities, so we took the opportunity to do further medical check-ups, distribute medicines and provide supplementary nutritious food for the children.”
Working together to fight malnutrition
In Timor-Leste, the rates of malnutrition among children under the age of five are one of the highest in Asia. Per the 2013 Timor-Leste Food and Nutrition Survey (TLFNS), stunting (meaning children are too short for their age) affects 53% of boys and 47% of girls under the age of five, while wasting (children weight too little for their height) affects 13% of boys and 9% of girls. Additionally, 39% of boys and 36% of girls are underweight (children weight too little for their age).
WFP is a committed partner of the Government of Timor-Leste and both organisations are working together to end malnutrition in all its forms. WFP is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to nutritious foods year-round so that what people eat matches what they need to live a healthy, productive life.
Read more about WFP’s work in Timor-Leste.