Timor Leste since it’s independence in 2002, is one of the newest nations in the world – unfortunately it is also one of poorest. Orthopaedic Outreach in collaboration with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, has been providing orthopaedic surgical support into the Hospital Nacional Guido Valadares, Dili as well as to the remote provincial settings such as Bacau, Suai and Maliana.
Supporting visiting orthopaedic teams into Timor Leste is expensive. Although geographically Timor Leste is one of Australia’s closest neighbours, access into Dili comes at a cost, with overnight accommodation typically in Darwin to accommodate flight schedules, and the provision of complete range of supplies, as local facilities are poorly maintained with limited supply chain, and heavy reliance on donation.
Funding into Timor Leste is primarily through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons accessing AusAID funding to support specialty surgical teams through ATLASS – Australia-Timor Leste Program of Assistance for Secondary Services. The current four year phase (2012–2016) is increasing the availability and quality of basic secondary services in anaesthesia, paediatrics, orthopaedics, obstetrics and general surgery. Long-term, in-country specialists are helping develop curriculum to train local educators to deliver surgical training.
Drs David McNicol and Phil Aubin, have alternated with Antony Jeffries leading team visits into Timor Leste working with local in-house surgeon Dr Saturnino Saldanha.