After conducting a scoping trip in November 2022, the Lien Collaborative team returned to Timor Leste in April 2023 to initiate its inaugural training session for local healthcare professionals interested in palliative care.
The team comprised of six individuals, including four teaching faculty members and two staff members from the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network. We were privileged to have had an esteemed international faculty lead the first training session in Timor Leste. The faculty members included Dr Sylvia McCarthy from Hospis Malaysia, Ms Joan Ryan from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Dr Ann Toh from HCA Hospice Care, and Ms Rachel Stephen from Hospis Malaysia.
A total of 29 individuals from eight different organisations across Timor Leste attended our four-day training session held at Guido Valadares National Hospital (HNGV). Notably, a handful of organisations were situated in remote districts, and some participants had to travel nearly four hours to reach HNGV.
During the four-day program, our esteemed faculty members conducted a series of lectures covering a wide range of topics related to palliative care, including ‘Introduction to Palliative Care’ and ‘Communication’. It is important to note that Timor Leste has two official languages, Portuguese and Tetum, as well as two working languages, English and Indonesian.
To facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the lecture content, Dr. Andre Belo from Saúde Ba Ema Hotu (SABEH) kindly volunteered to serve as our translator, ensuring effective communication by translating from English to the participants’ local language. This collaborative effort played a significant role in promoting a more inclusive and accessible learning experience for all participants.
During the training program, a valuable opportunity arose on the third day for us to visit the palliative ward at HNGV. This visit provided the participants with a practical application of the knowledge and skills they had acquired during the preceding days. To ensure a focused and personalised approach, the 29 participants were divided into four groups, each assigned to assess one patient. Throughout the assessment process, participants took turns engaging in meaningful conversations with the patients, demonstrating sensitivity and respect for their emotional well-being. It was heartening to observe that initially reserved and cautious patients gradually grew more at ease, establishing a sense of trust and subsequently expressing themselves more openly to the participants. This experience showcased the participants’ ability to effectively apply their training and foster positive patient interactions within the palliative care setting.
During that eventful afternoon, we were honored by the presence of Excellency Ministra Dr. Odete Freitas Belo, the Timorese Minister of Health, at HNGV. Her visit marked the significant occasion of the signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding between the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network and The Ministry of Health, Timor Leste.
This collaborative agreement holds great promise for both parties, particularly in terms of advancing the development of human resources and capacity building for palliative care services in Timor-Leste. The participants of our program had the privilege of witnessing this momentous event, further underscoring the importance and impact of their training.
The subsequent day marked the final day of the training program, where all participants congregated in the conference room for engaging case discussions and presentations. Our esteemed faculty members provided valuable feedback to enhance the participants’ learning experience. To conclude the training, an open forum was held, allowing participants to share their reflections on the past few days of intensive instruction. Their positive responses and enthusiasm for future training sessions were truly heartening.
Remarkably, as the training session drew to a close, Timor Leste was fortunate to witness a hybrid total solar eclipse, one of the rarest astronomical phenomena. Coinciding with this celestial event, everyone ventured out of the conference room and into the hospital courtyard, equipped with safe solar viewing glasses, to catch a glimpse of this awe-inspiring spectacle. Undoubtedly, it served as an unforgettable and fitting conclusion to the program, creating lasting memories for all involved.
We are pleased to announce that the Timor Leste Lien Collaborative program will continue its endeavors in early 2024. Stay tuned for further updates as we strive to make a meaningful impact in the field of palliative care in Timor Leste.
Written by Ms Trudy Giam (APHN Executive)
This project is a Lien Collaborative for Palliative Care initiative to build capacity in developing countries in Asia. The Lien Collaborative for Palliative Care was co-developed by the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network (APHN) and the Lien Foundation.