|Location||2 weeks||3 weeks||4 weeks|
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East Timor (Timor-Leste in Portuguese) continues to suffer the after effects of its decades-long struggle for independence against Indonesian occupation, which severely damaged the country’s infrastructure and killed at least a hundred thousand people. The roads are rugged, the vehicles are in poor condition and therefore travel is slow.
Medical volunteering in Timor Leste is ideal for professionals with a sense of adventure! The medical clinics are located in remote areas where there is often a shortage of experienced doctors and medical supplies.
The country relies on foreign support as it struggles to build a viable economy and coffee beans are one of their valued resources. Predominantly Catholic, over one-third of the population lives below the international poverty line (less than US$1.25/day) and around half the population is illiterate.
Life can be challenging in this beautiful country however it is a wonderful experience for the adventurous with the local people genuinely welcoming. The country offers trekking through spectacular tropical forests; beautiful sandy beaches and glorious sunsets.
This Medical Clinic opened in October 2016. The clinic provides primary healthcare to the local population, treating all ailments in men, women, and children, as well as providing maternity care. The clinic is located in the village of Maucatar and the nearest town is Suai.
We need medical professionals to help in the clinic. There is no permanent doctor there, so the local people really benefit when a doctor is able to visit and volunteer their time and expertise. Qualified doctors at all stages in training – from interns and junior doctors to senior doctors and specialists of any kind – are very welcome. Please note that obstetric experience is not necessary as there are permanent midwives who conduct deliveries, but if you do have obstetric experience then this is appreciated.
Volunteers will work in clinic providing primary health care to the patients who attend each day. Typical presentations range from simple viral upper respiratory infections, to scabies, acute malnutrition, musculo-skeletal pain, pneumonia, tuberculosis, abscesses, minor trauma, and almost anything else! There is a stock of common medicines that are provided for free to patients, although there can be shortages of medicines. They have urine dip test, pregnancy test, malaria testing, and blood glucose testing in clinic, although there are no other blood tests, imaging, or microbiology tests available. There are facilities for intravenous treatments, oxygen, and nebulised medication. There is the option to refer patients to the hospital in Suai if needed.
Local staff will translate for you during your consultations with patients (the local people speak Tetum, and local staff speak English, French, Italian, and Indonesian). An average day will see 10-30 patients, so there is plenty of time to spend with patients, to teach the staff, and to perform procedures and minor surgery if you feel able to do so.
Once a week there is an outreach program to visit local villages as these people are often not able to get to the clinic themselves. You would see approximately 30-80 patients on these visits, often consulting outdoors in the open air. Medical Clinic in Suai
The Clinic also partakes in health promotion activities, for example dental, nutritional, and antenatal education and recently introduced the Dying at Home Program to the local population. The clinic is integrated into the local community, so you have the opportunity to follow up with patients, as the Sisters and staff generally know all of the local people personally.
Accommodation and Food
Outside the clinic you will have free time to enjoy the local area. Life in Maucatar is that of a rural village; goats and pigs roam freely and the mountainous setting is quite beautiful. The local people will welcome you into their community, and they are very grateful to have volunteers visiting. The area is extremely safe, for both males and females, including those visiting alone. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience rural life in Timor Leste in a community that is largely inaccessible to tourists.
You will be looked after by the Hospitallers Sisters of Mercy, who also run the clinic. They will provide accommodation and food for you. There are no shops in Maucatar, however the Sisters regularly visit Suai to buy supplies. There is running water and electricity; although power cuts are quite frequent and they have a generator. You will be provided with a mobile internet dongle so you can access the internet, although the connection can be slow. You will be well fed with a variety of foods and you will be well looked after. The clinic is a Catholic Mission clinic, and you are welcome to attend church, but there is certainly no obligation to do so, and you will be welcomed and respected regardless of your religion.
Most volunteers visit for around one month, however you are welcome to join for longer or shorter visits, and they are grateful for visits of two weeks.
You will fly to Dili Airport and you can either take a 30-minute flight to Suai or travel by road. The distance by road is 182 km however the very scenic drive will take around 8 hours due to the poor condition of the roads. If you arrive in Dili in the afternoon, we can arrange overnight accommodation in Dili so you can embark on your journey the next morning. We will communicate your flight details to the local staff and they will meet you at the International Airport.
Please bring conservative, comfortable cotton clothing to wear while working in the clinic. Bring disposable gloves, face mask and antiseptic hand gel for your use as well as basic medical tools such as BP apparatus, thermometer, stethoscope, pulse oximeter and otoscope. We will also provide you with a ‘wish list’ of supplies for the clinic.
When to Go
East Timor has two seasons: wet (December to April) and dry (May to November). During the rainy season there can be floods and landslides that cut off access to roads.
Daytime temperatures are around 30-35°C all year-round in the lowland areas, dropping to the low 20s overnight. In the mountain areas, warm-to-hot daytime temperatures drop to a chillier 15°C at night, less at altitude. At the end of the dry season in parts of the north coast the mercury hovers over 35°C. A good time to visit is after the wet season, from late April to July.
COSTING PER PERSON:
1 Week: A$ 995
2 Weeks: A$ 1,695
4 Weeks: A$ 2,395
• Return Transfers Dili Airport / Suai Accommodation
• Pre-departure support and information pack, arrival induction and orientation
• Accommodation, all meals, bottled water and coffee
• Local in country ground support
• DocTours T-shirt and personalised luggage label
• Contribution to the Clinic
• Items of a personal nature (ie telephone, drinks, etc)
• Travel Insurance
• Passport, Visa and Police Report fees
• Flights (and taxes) to and from Dili
CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (‘CPD’) AND PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY
Your medical voluntary work may be eligible for CPD points with your relevant college. We will send you a copy of the guiding information with your travel documents.
We recommend that doctors advise their professional indemnity provider of their medical volunteering in Timor Leste in advance of travel.
DEPOSIT A deposit of A$495 will be requested after your placement is confirmed. This deposit is non-refundable.
FINAL PAYMENT Due two months prior to departure.
Contact STA Travel if you would like assistance with your flights, optional tours or travel insurance. STA Travel provides special offers and benefits for volunteers and therefore please call direct: Email: email@example.com Phone: 1300 675 435 Airlines flying to Dili include Air North (code: TL from Darwin) or Merpati (code MZ, from Denpasar, Bali).
PASSPORT AND VISAS
Visas are required for most nationalities travelling to Timor Leste. A tourist visa on arrival (of up to 30 days’ duration) is available to valid Australian passport holders for US$30. A departure tax of US$10 is applicable and there are currently no money exchange facilities at the airport. Please ensure that your passport expires more than 6 months after you return home and there are at least two blank pages in your passport. We also recommend taking some spare passport photos.
It is a condition of your travel arrangements that you have current travel insurance to cover against cancellation fees, medical expenses, lost luggage and evacuation.
Please refer to the Conditions section on the Application Form. Deposits are non-refundable once your arrangements have been confirmed.
Please note that all costs are subject to change due to increases in taxes, hotel and volunteer price increases, as well as currency adjustments.