Magazine article New Internationalist

East Timor's Medical Dump

Magazine article New Internationalist

East Timor's Medical Dump

Article excerpt

'I have a huge number of oxygen cylinders but I don't have any other equipment to go with them. That means the cylinders are unusable.' This is how Scottish anaesthesiologist Dr Alan Thomson diagnoses his working conditions at the Oecussi hospital, a 12-hour boat ride west of East Timor's capital, Dili.

The problem is caused by 'dumping' - donors who send inappropriate aid. East Timor's underfunded healthcare system continues to rely heavily on international aid. But donors often given machinery that is inappropriate to the population, too expensive to operate, and requires either specially trained staff or additional technology not available.

Australian eye surgeon John Kearney - like his colleague Dr Thomson - is one of many overseas medical specialists who flies in two or three times a year to assist the East Timorese. 'A lot of people think: "This is out of date, we'll send it up to East Timor," ' Dr Kearney says. …

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