IOM Timor-Leste Marks Four Years of Progress in Tuberculosis Management

©IOM Timor-Leste

©IOM Timor-Leste

©IOM Timor-Leste

©IOM Timor-Leste

©IOM Timor-Leste

Dili, Timor-Leste – Timor-Leste has one of the highest tuberculosis (TB) incidence rates per capita in Southeast Asia. According to World Health Organization (WHO) data up until 2020, there were 498 cases per 100,000 people. In the same year, Timor-Leste and its public health system faced severe challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Strengthening active case detection and management of tuberculosis among communities in Timor-Leste" is a program launched in September 2020, building on IOM's efforts over the past nine years to support mobile populations in hard-to-reach communities in accessing health services, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health in the country. With generous funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the program has focused on the deployment of mobile health services for TB screening, X-rays, and GeneXpert machines in the hardest-to-reach communities of Covalima, Baucau, Bobonaro, Atauro, and Dili (Metinaro), municipalities, for the past four years. 

"The main challenge faced by the tuberculosis program is geographical; roads present a significant obstacle, and most people living in remote areas must cross rivers and climb hills to access services. However, as the statistics indicate, despite numerous obstacles, the case detection rates from 2022 to 2023 have been very good. The outcomes of the treatments have also been positive," stated Sr. Constantino Lopes, the National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) Manager. 

IOM's comprehensive strategy for TB management and response included not only active TB screening but also extensive training for health workers on the new diagnostic technologies and regular behavior change communication (BCC) activities. These efforts aim to inform communities about TB, its prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, ensuring widespread knowledge and access to care. 

The capacity-building training of the program has enabled over six radiographers, 60 medical doctors, and three laboratory technicians to use cutting-edge technology in TB diagnosis and treatment. This new technology encompasses the interpretation of digital chest X-ray (CXR) and the operation of the GeneXpert machine, a sophisticated diagnostic tool.   

"KOICA has been cooperating with the Government of Timor-Leste in TB since 2013, starting by constructing the National Health Laboratory in Dili. As a second phase of cooperation, KOICA endeavored to detect and treat TB with IOM, where IOM has shown utmost performance in detecting and treating TB in Timor-Leste from the beginning of our project, even in the face of global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to support such transformative work that not only addresses immediate health concerns but also lays the foundation for a more resilient healthcare system," said the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Country Director Ms. Youn Hwa Kang. 

Furthermore, the project has brought 700 primary healthcare workers up to speed on the new NTP TB guidelines and equipped 51 former TB patients with skills to be TB peer educators through cascade training. 

"Empowering health workers with new technologies and knowledge is pivotal for the early detection and treatment of TB," the IOM Timor-Leste Chief of Mission explained, noting the inclusion of pandemic preparedness in IOM’s strategy. "Our four-year program was able to detect and refer around 1,700 TB cases, out of the 18,104 cases detected nationwide over the past four years." 


For more information, please contact: 

Ahmed Bilal, Acting Project Manager, at, or   

Sarah Al Jameel, Media and Communications Officer, at