Health education collaborations to improve critical care in Timor

15 July 2009

Timor-Leste's Ministry of Health, Dili National Hospital of Guido Valadares and the Institute of Health Sciences in Dili have joined forces with the University of Sydney to improve the capacity of the critical care workforce in Timor-Leste.

A total of 27 participants, including 4 doctors and 21 nurses from Dili National Hospital and two staff members from the Institute of Health Sciences in Dili, took part in the Timor-Leste Critical Care Workshop.

Dr Dilhani Bandaranayake, Manager International Relations at the Sydney Medical School's Office for Global Health, was the coordinator of the program which took place at Dili National Hospital in June.

"The workshop was a real team effort with more than eight University of Sydney affiliated doctors and nurses from Sydney Medical School, Northern Clinical School, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery and ICU at Royal North Shore Hospital providing specialist advice during the workshops," said Dilhani.

According to Dilhani, the University's approach to teaching, while new to the participants, proved extremely effective.

"The Timor-Leste participants are used to a very traditional method of teaching and learning but they responded very positively to the teaching techniques used by the tutors which were based on the 'tell, show, do' SCORPIO (Structured, Clinical, Objective-References, Problem-Oriented, Integrated and Organised) and case scenario methods," said Dilhani.

"A practical and hands-on approach to teaching and learning is much more effective in retaining and refreshing knowledge and skills and that is why we will be conducting a 'Teach-the-Teacher' workshop when we return to Timor in October, to assist in making this a sustainable program" she said.

The need for a skills based training program focusing on critical care was identified in July 2008 when members of Sydney Medical School traveled to Timor Leste for a 'scoping visit' with Dili National Hospital and Ministry of Health staff.

"We spoke to Timor health officials and they indicated that their workforce needed to undergo skills training especially in the emergency, medical and intensive care," said Dilhani.

"They also indicated a need to incorporate these critical care skills into an ongoing and longer-term clinical skills training plan and we are working with the Ministry of Health to formulate an ongoing development plan for wider critical care skills training," she said.

Sydney Medical School, AusAID's Public Sector Linkages Program (PSLP) and the University's International Program Development Fund (IPDF) fund the Critical Care Capacity Building initiative.

"This workshop has been a real success but it is only step one. In addition to the 'Teach-the-Teacher' workshop and a second critical care workshop in October this year, we hope to expand this program to the regional referral hospitals in Timor and will apply for more funding to do so," said Dilhani.

"We also intend to apply for funding to expand this program to cover pediatric critical care since the program this year focused on the critically ill adult patient," she said.

Contact: Michelle Wood

Phone: 02 9351 3191

Email: 19082930204724556901015f270f3e37032f45171025475319