What does COVID-19 mean for us? As I write this, I’m relieved to advise that Timor-Leste has only one confirmed case of COVID-19 at this stage. Our focus is always on the health and well-being of our patients, supporters, volunteers and staff.
To this end, due to the COVID-19 environment in which we are all living, we have had to:
- Defer our paediatric surgical trip, originally planned for April. We will be reviewing getting this initiative going again as soon as travel and hospital restrictions make it possible. We will review this monthly, to ensure we are ready to go as soon as possible.
- We may have to defer our June cardiac screening clinic, and will review this again in May to determine when the next clinic is doable. Our medical volunteers are very keen to get this going, but their health and safety is a key priority.
- We will have to wait until some COVID-19 related travel barriers disappear before we can resume bringing patients to Australia for surgery. Thankfully, we were able to complete three life-saving surgeries in March. Our incredible medical volunteers are ready to go as soon as we are able to safely resume our vital work.
To ensure the health and safety of our wonderful supporters, we’ve taken the necessary steps to suspend all of our fundraising events until further notice. We are saddened that we won’t see our incredible committed supporters face-to-face in the short term. However, we will continue to keep you up-to-date with our latest news through our social media channels and newsletters. We will also continue to roll out our fundraising appeals to keep everyone informed of our activities.
The people of Timor-Leste are reliant on your generosity so they can access heart health education and our penicillin prevention program which is continuing to deliver penicillin monthly to over 140 of our patients. We will also be working on development of a scholarship program for Timorese medical professionals to build greater in-country capability, for rollout as soon as the environment makes it possible.
Your donations will also help secure funds for our next wave of life-saving heart surgery as soon we can travel again, as well as funding the medical costs for Ana, Anina and Maria who have just returned to Timor-Leste after having life-saving heart surgery in Melbourne and Sydney. They are currently recovering safely in quarantine in Dili, very happy to have had their surgeries and to be “back home”.
As a medical NGO, we look to minimise risk both for our community and our team and so the decision to suspend all face-to-face events, even the smallest of gatherings, is the right one. We encourage you to take care of yourselves and be sure to stay informed on how to stay healthy during this unprecedented situation.
We are constantly monitoring the situation, in liaison with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Timor-Leste Ministry of Health and our hospital partners across Australia and in Timor-Leste, to ensure we get back to business-as-usual as soon as we can.
The following links related to COVID-19 may be useful:
Chief Executive Officer