Timor-Leste scholars arrive at Sydney

28 February 2008

Medical ambitions: Diana Vieira and Noeno Anuno Sarmento
Medical ambitions: Diana Vieira and Noeno Anuno Sarmento

When he returns home to Timor-Leste, Noeno Anuno Sarmento plans to work at the busy and under-resourced national hospital in Dili. "Every day hundreds of patients come in, but we lack the health professionals - particularly doctors - to look after them," he explains.

His colleague Diana Vieira would like to do something to cut the number of preventable deaths in the troubled country.Too many people die from easily treated diseases such as malaria, TB and respiratory infections, she explains, and too many women and children die at childbirth.

Noeno and Diana are the first students from Timor-Leste to arrive at Sydney University under a scholarship program introduced by the Faculty of Medicine. The scholarships will cover all their fees, living expenses and other costs for up to five years as they take part in the graduate medical program.

The intitiative was the idea of the Dean of Medicine, Bruce Robinson, who felt the University should make a tangible contribution to the health of people in Timor-Leste.
Speaking at a function to welcome the two new scholarship students, Professor Robinson said: "The University has an important role to play in building capacity in Timor-Leste, a country that has come through very difficult times in recent years."

The event was due to be attended by the President of Timor-Leste, Jose Ramos-Horta, before he was seriously injured in an assassination attempt earlier this month. Estela Ferreira, Timor-Leste's Goodwill Ambassador, said she had just returned from visiting Mr Ramos-Horta in hospital in Darwin where he was making a good recovery.

Professor Gavin Brown, the Vice-Chancellor, said the University was committed to working constructively in Timor-Leste, and the Dean of Pharmacy, Professor Iqbal Ramzan, said his faculty would also provide a scholarship in its masters program for a student from Timor-Leste, starting in 2009.

Contact: Richard North

Phone: 02 9351 3720