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08 January 2009

Charles Darwin University research targets maternal health in East Timor

CDU research targets mothers’ health in East Timor 8/01/2009 - A PhD candidate from Charles Darwin University is working to increase understanding of maternal health in East Timor.

Kayli Wild, who is studying through CDU’s Graduate School of Health Practice, presented a paper on the subject at East Timor’s first Health Sciences Conference in Dili recently.

The paper, entitled “Maternal health policy development: lessons for implementation in Timor Leste”, provoked discussion on the country’s current national policy on maternal health.

The policy includes a proposal that maternity waiting homes be developed to improve access to a delivery facility for women in rural areas.

Currently, about 90 per cent of women in East Timor give birth outside the health system, contributing to high rates of maternal mortality.

Ms Wild argued that while national strategic direction was crucial when formulating maternal health policies, the process would benefit from a greater focus on local and international research, and broadening the definition of stakeholders to include midwives and women of child-bearing age, particularly those living in rural areas.

Her PhD thesis aims to understand elements that influence maternity care. This ranges from policies through culture and the intersection of traditional and western-educated health workers and includes experiences of women and families. She has investigated the maternity waiting homes set up already, providing an informed critique of policy and information about implementation.

This research will be used to develop a framework for the delivery of maternal care services for Timor Leste that is based around women, family and culture.

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