Paulina Quintao – The Acting Minister of Health and current Vice Minister for Development and Health Strategic Issues, Bonifacio Maucoli dos Reis said according to ministry's data, many Timorese die of cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks, cancers, stroke and hypertension.
He said according to statistics from the Department of Health Information for 2017-2018, 22% of patients at the national hospital died from non-contagious diseases (NCDs), 19.6% died from contagious diseases, and the third highest cause of death was maternal and child mortality.
He also said in the last five years, the number of patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases increased and it is likely to cause mortality compared to contagious diseases, like dengue and tuberculosis, although these are still public health issues of concern in Timor-Leste.
"The high number of cardiovascular diseases are caused by unhealthy lifestyles, so we continue to raise the community's awareness to stop consuming tobacco and alcohol, and eating unhealthy food because these actions can lead to chronic diseases," he said in Dili.
He added currently the ministry with its partners are making efforts to implement the tobacco control regime, and sharing information about a healthy diet and promoting exercise activity including a health march every week to mobilize the community to adopt healthier lifestyles.
"Besides non-contagious diseases, another cause of death occurs during childbirth, maternal and child mortality, because of distance issues [to the nearest health post], limited human resources, and other complications that kill mothers during childbirth," he said.
He also added that despite this reality, Timor-Leste has made significant progress in the reduction of maternal mortality from 557/100.000 live births in 2010 to 215/100.000 in 2015, but this rate is still high compared to other countries in South East Asia.
Meanwhile, the President of Commission F (for Health, Social Security and Gender Equality) of the National Parliament, MP Maria Barreto thanked health professionals who despite facing difficulties and many limitations, still dedicate themselves to providing healthcare services to the population.
She said she acknowledged that since the establishment of the State, the government and especially the Ministry of Health has made many significant progresses on the National Health System, but it is necessary to improve and strengthen these services in rural areas, because there are still concerns and dissatisfaction from the public about the quality of services in rural and remote areas.
"As the representative of people, we are the eyes, ears and mouth of people, we will continue to find ways to support the Ministry of Health to fix the quality of healthcare services to the communities. The main thing is to obey the professional code of ethics, respect the principle of the moral values and follow existing standards, so that those patients who cannot be treated by a health professional despite their best efforts, can die with dignity," she said.
She added that, the parliament is ready to work with the Ministry of Health to elaborate, discuss, analyze and approve laws covering the health interest and wellbeing of the people including the alcohol control regime currently being elaborated.