2024-01-29

Braving difficult terrains to distribute supplies after 7-week project preparation

The Foundation constantly evaluates the medical needs of different developing countries and opportunities for implementing various public health initiatives. According to a WHO report, Timor-Leste has been experiencing a surge in its local dengue fever cases since late 2021 and the rate is at abnormally high levels compared to previous years. Against this backdrop, the Foundation sent different teams to carry out site visits at local medical institutions since December last year. After gauging the understanding of the health conditions and environments of the local hospitals, community health centres and health ports, as well as the local vector borne disease situation, the team decided to launch the first “Pilot Project for Health Protection against Dengue Fever” in Timor-Leste.

The Foundation’s team and volunteers braved difficult terrains to give out supplies to various medical institutions, including 50,000 rapid dengue diagnostic kits, 500 mosquito nets, 2600 mosquito lamps and 30,000 insect sticky traps. To enhance the locals’ understanding of dengue fever and minimise their risks of infection, the team also conducted anti-mosquito health education, demonstrating the multi-pronged approach of early detection, prevention, protection, and education of the project. The entire program will cover 6 local hospitals and about 300 community health centres and health posts.

Volunteers from Hong Kong and Macau set sail together
Since Timor-Leste is a former Portuguese colony, Portuguese and Tetum are the main languages spoken locally. The volunteer team of this project is composed of retired Hong Kong disciplinary force members, youths, and teachers from the Macau University of Science and Technology. The first two groups were responsible for distributing supplies and conducting public health education, while the latter sent 3 Portuguese language teachers as volunteer interpreters, serving as a bridge between the Foundation’s team and the locals. The Foundation deployed a team of 18 members, setting a record as the largest team in the history of their projects.

The medical institutions in Timor-Leste are spread out across the entire country, some hospitals are located 2000m above sea level, while others can only be reached by plane. CEO of GX Foundation, Professor Emily CHAN Ying-yang stated, “This project will last for 9 months, and it does not only include donating supplies. Instead, we adapt a multi-pronged approach of early detection, prevention, protection, and education, which includes arrangements to ensure that all supplies are successfully handed out to different medical institutions, operational demonstrations and even public health education for the locals to control the spread of dengue fever locally.”

Professor Emily CHAN Ying-yang also highlighted the case of a 12-year-old patient from her visit to a local hospital, who was only diagnosed with dengue fever 12 days after her infection due to the unavailability of rapid dengue diagnostic kits. Additionally, the worn-out mosquito bed nets utilized at the hospital increased the risk of dengue fever transmissions, highlighting the significance of the Foundation’s donations to the local medical institutions.