Practical support during crisis

Ricky, from our partner Maluk Timor, delivering urgent supplies to Dr Brandao and his team at HNGV

Ricky, from our partner Maluk Timor, delivering urgent supplies to Dr Brandao and his team at HNGV.


Timor-Leste is still grappling with the aftermath of the devastating Easter floods which have already claimed the lives of 42 people, with more people still unaccounted for. A staggering 29,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed in various parts of the country. More than 3,700 hectares of agricultural fields have also been wiped out, especially in the municipalities of Manatuto, Bobonaro, Liquiçá and Viqueque. Many roads were also significantly damaged, including in and around the capital making transport extremely difficult.

In Dili, more than 4,300 people still remain in seven evacuation centres. The natural disaster has compounded the escalating challenges associated with managing the COVID-19 pandemic in recent months, forcing extensive lockdowns and an even higher demand on health services.

Thanks to ongoing donor support, ETHF was able to help meet the urgent needs of our health partners in Timor-Leste last month. Ricky Flavio from Maluk Timor assisted in delivering our second shipment of PPE along with a much needed ECG machine to Hospital National Guido Valadares. The delivery will help support Dr Flavio Brandao and his team who continue to support heart patients during extremely challenging conditions at this time.

Striving through great times of difficulty

Our thoughts are constantly with our patients, friends and colleagues in Timor-Leste who have had to cope not just with a very difficult COVID environment, including lockdowns to prevent spread of the virus, but also the catastrophic Easter floods.

Ricky, from our partner Maluk Timor, delivering urgent supplies to Dr Brandao and his team at HNGV

Flood damage to healthcare services in Timor-Leste.

Despite the difficulties on the ground, we have strived to remain relevant and supportive, doing meaningful work:

  • We delivered thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the national hospital and Maluk Timor in Timor-Leste to help keep frontline healthcare workers and our local partners safe during the pandemic,

Ricky, from our partner Maluk Timor, delivering urgent supplies to Dr Brandao and his team at HNGV

Delivering urgent medical supplies after the floods.

  • We were delighted to be part of the process which developed the rheumatic heart disease and acute rheumatic fever guidelines for Timor-Leste, which have now been approved by the Ministry of Health, and we will be supporting the rollout and implementation of those guidelines across the country in partnership with Maluk Timor and the Ministry of Health,

  • Our Board approved the Dr Dan Murphy Paediatric Cardiology Scholarship to train the first paediatric cardiologist for Timor-Leste in partnership with Monash Heart, with the successful candidate to commence the two year scholarship at the start of 2022,

  • We have successfully increased the number and diversity of our membership from eleven to over 40 supporters, volunteers and partners who are now valued members of East Timor Hearts Fund. This includes for the first time seven Timor based members, four organisational members and three members from interstate,

  • We are delighted to welcome Timorese community leader Alzira dos Reis as our newest Board member with a Timorese Advisory Committee to be established by the end of the year, and

Ricky, from our partner Maluk Timor, delivering urgent supplies to Dr Brandao and his team at HNGV

Alzira dos Reis has joined the board of ETHF.

  • Our US webinar on heart disease in Timor-Leste was recorded and will be well utilised for further education and marketing purposes.

During the past few weeks, we have farewelled our co-founder Ingrid Svendsen from the Board, and her successor as Chair David Lloyd is already making an impact with his energy, networks and experience.

Ricky, from our partner Maluk Timor, delivering urgent supplies to Dr Brandao and his team at HNGV

Farewelling co-founder and former Board Chair Ingrid Svendsen.

This will also be the last newsletter that our co-founder Dr Noel Bayley will be providing his section as Honorary Medical Adviser. Nevertheless, we are very thankful that Noel will continue his volunteer clinical work.

Thank you to Noel and Ingrid for your massive contributions over the past ten years, and your incredible roles in creating such an amazingly effective and sustainable organisation, and saving so many lives in Timor-Leste.

Stay safe and well.

David Marlow

Chief Executive Officer

A hive of activity and time for a new successor

Medical roundup

Greetings, friends, supporters, colleagues. A frustrating time for us all.

COVID, of course, has seriously cramped our usual activities, and we’ve done the best we could by running online clinics as a temporising measure.

The devastating floods in Dili have further restricted us, and made life very difficult indeed for our friends and patients in Timor-Leste. But we’ve not been inactive.

The Ministry of Health in Timor-Leste has approved the RHD guidelines, into which we’ve had significant input (take a bow, Dr Ari Horton).

The board has approved a scholarship for a Timorese paediatric cardiologist — named in honour of our good friend, the much missed Dr Dan Murphy. Another of Ari’s projects, with the potential to transform cardiac care for Timorese children.

Ricky, from our partner Maluk Timor, delivering urgent supplies to Dr Brandao and his team at HNGV

Co-founder, Dr Noel Bayley, stepping down after a decade as ETHF’s Medical Adviser.

A significant amount of much needed PPE has arrived and been distributed in Dili. David Marlow has been indefatigable, here.

Finally, this is my last communication as medical adviser to East Timor Hearts Fund. It’s a role I’ve filled since the organisation’s foundation. It’s been simultaneously a burden, a delight, and an enormous privilege.

My life has been remarkably fortunate, with a remarkable array of personal and professional endeavours which have given me purpose, value and satisfaction.

But my engagement with Timor, and with ETHF in particular, stands out.

My thanks to so many of you who’ve been extraordinarily supportive.

The board will appoint my successor in the near future. Easy act to follow.

Dr Noel Bayley

Honorary Medical Adviser

Run for your health, run from the heart

Grab your runners and get moving

We’re passionate about your heart health and we hope you still take some time to get outdoors and walk or jog around your neighborhood during the Winter months. If you haven’t registered already, please register your team today for this year’s 2021 Run Melbourne. Keeping fit while supporting our neighbours in Timor-Leste is a great motivator to rally your family and friends to help patients to access life-saving healthcare.

Now more than ever, we need to support heart patients in Timor-Leste so they can have life-saving heart surgery. Please go to and register to help raise funds so we can reach our target of $20,000 and provide heart surgery to save a patient’s life. Together we can do this.

Ricky, from our partner Maluk Timor, delivering urgent supplies to Dr Brandao and his team at HNGV

Passion, purpose and possibility

Saving lives takes passion, expertise and a whole lot of ingenuity. Medical volunteer, cardiologist Dr Elizabeth Paratz, recently recalled how the ETHF team conducted research in Timor-Leste several years ago. Prior to 2016 there was little to no research into the prevalence of cardiac disease in the country. Gaining a greater understanding of the local context and prevalence of rheumatic heart disease was essential if we were to tackle heart conditions that were not only treatable, but preventable in developed countries like Australia.

Armed with donated equipment and supplies, a team of ETHF medical volunteers headed to Timor-Leste, to conduct ground-breaking research into the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease in children. Using portable ultrasound machines, research was conducted in schools, often using two desks, a rug and a pillow as a make-shift bed for the young participants to lie on. While the conditions were challenging, the findings were confronting with one in 28 people (one in 20 girls) living with rheumatic heart disease - one of the highest rates in the world.

Prior to COVID-19 restrictions Dr Paratz was volunteering at our in-country clinics annually. She observed that over time, demand continued to grow as people became more educated about their symptoms and ETHF’s reputation spread across the community. The rate of new patients was tripling every two years. Since 2020, she is one of several medical volunteers working with our healthcare partners in Timor-Leste to develop our online clinics. Our online services provide essential care to patients, while also providing an opportunity to train and upskill our healthcare partners in Timor-Leste.

Many patients are struggling with debilitating heart disease. The simple act of breathing can be painful and distressing. The sheer fear of not knowing if they will live can be crippling for their loved ones. “There are just so many cases with individual stories. Every case has an impact on you,” says Dr Paratz. ETHF has saved many lives over the past decade. However, cardiac healthcare services are still in a state of emergency in Timor-Leste. Without support from donors like you, we cannot continue to improve the outcomes of young cardiac patients, who were simply born in a country that doesn’t yet have the same vital heart healthcare that we take for granted.

Ease suffering and help patients thrive

We work with local health partners in Timor-Leste, to adapt our services to provide immediate practical support, as they rebuild from their recent devastating April floods and manage their COVID-19 challenges. We also need to build capacity to meet the growing list of patients, waiting for life-saving surgery as soon as it is safe to resume. Please make a tax deductible donation by June 30. Your generous support can help tackle the causes of widespread rheumatic heart disease, empower local health services through the provision of equipment and staff training, and provide treatment for patients to live full and healthy lives.

Please give from the heart by June 30. Your gift will support our neighbours in Timor-Leste to save the lives of the seriously ill, empower them to build their healthcare capability and help prevent the impacts of rheumatic heart disease. Donate today and help make accessible heart health care a reality in Timor-Leste.

Donate now

Thank you for your commitment to saving lives in Timor-Leste

If you would like to volunteer and get involved, follow us on social media and head to our website.
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We are registered by the ACNC. Our accounts and other information is publicly available via the online Charity Register.

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