A complex and serious problem

Timor-Leste is the fourth hungriest country in the world

 Source:IFPRI Global Hunger Index

In Timor-Leste:


live on 88c (US) per day or less


are below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption


of children are malnourished

Timor-Leste’s National Nutritional Strategy has tried to determine what exactly the root cause of undernourishment in the country is.

The National Strategy shows that malnutrition in Timor-Leste is a result of not one specific issue, but a combination of many.

“extreme poverty, low agricultural productivity, overemphasis on staple foods (especially rice), poor health services, lack of clean water, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, poor access to health services, low public investment and capacity in nutrition, insufficient public knowledge of what is good nutrition and the consequences of under-nutrition, and a plethora of “traditional” or “cultural” attitudes and beliefs and taboos around certain foods and eating practices.”

 – National Nutrition Strategy of Timor-Leste

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Timor Leste’s Ministry of Health has also attributed it to the lack of dietary diversity, inadequate protein intake and a lack of access to essential, basic food items. Many women, especially mothers, lack access to or cannot afford foods high in protein, like beef, fish, chicken, eggs and fruit.Though these factors seem overwhelming, interventions on behalf of Timor Leste’s government have made an impact on reducing malnutrition. Between 2010 and 2013, malnutrition was reduced by 6.6 percentage points, dropping from 44.7 percent to 38.1 percent.The Ministry of Health said, “Data shows a reduction of about 11 percent (from 49 percent in 2010 to 38 percent in 2013) in chronic malnutrition rate in children aged 0 to 23 months and about 6.7 percent of reduction in chronicle malnutrition rate in children of the same age, relatively to the results of the Demographic Health Study (from 18.6 percent in 2010 to 11.9 percent in 2013).”The World Bank has also contributed to malnutrition reduction efforts with the Community Driven Nutrition Improvement Project, a four year pilot project launched in 2014. This project aims to improve nutrition practices for children under the age of two, pregnant women and women who are lactating. Since the first 1,000 days of a child’s life is significant to adequate nutrition over the course of their lifetime, mothers are being taught useful nutritional practices and eating habits that will benefit their children. The Community Driven Nutrition Improvement Project is estimated to have benefited 4,470 children under the age of 2 and 5,503 lactating and pregnant women.

In response to this critical issue funding from the Bairo Foundation helps to supports the Clinic’s Malnutrition Program

The Bairo Pite Clinic Malnutrition program contains three key components:

  • Screening

  • Education

  • Malnutrition Ward

Malnutrition Ward

Helping malnourished children get a kick start The Malnutrition Ward predominantly treats children under 5 who are severely malnourished.Managing malnutrition is a priority at the Clinic and as such our Ward frequently treats 12 to 15 patients at a time.Our work in this area has a strong focus on ascertaining how our patients have become so poorly malnourished.
Severe malnutrition is an acutely dangerous condition and great care must be taken to ensure that in the early treatment phase the increased food and specific foods given do not themselves bring on acute problems. Once the patients are gaining weight and are sufficiently stable the BPC team then ensures to provide the patients with the relevant information regarding a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle.
The length of stay for a severely malnourished child can stretch into weeks and months and this can place a great strain on a family with a number of other children to look after. Bairo Pite Clinic strictly adheres to the National Timor Leste guidelines for the management of malnutrition.

Learn more about the work we do for the people of Timor Leste

We focus on five key areas of health
Learn about our key areas of focus

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