Tackling Endemic Infectious Disease in the Era of COVID-19 Pandemic

International Annual Health Scientific Conference

Last week, the International Annual Health Scientific Conference, “Tackling Endemic Infectious Disease in the Era of COVID-19 Pandemic” was held in Dili, Timor-Leste. The conference was initiated by the National Institution for Health (INS) with support from Maluk Timor (via the Australian Government-funded ASTEROID project) and Menzies Research School for Health.

This was the second conference of its kind since Timor-Leste gained independence in 2000.

While there are very few research activities on health in our country, there are numerous Timorese health researchers who have accomplished their studies overseas on health related topics in Timor-Leste. The INS was established in the last decade to support and increase the health research activities in the country. However, the number of research projects in the country continues stagnant in recent years.

The conference was aimed at providing opportunities to scientists, policy & decision makers, health professionals and academics for engaging in discussions on infectious diseases including prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 in Timor Leste. The conference was also an opportunity to present and launch the ASTEROID teaching package (TIKMI) as well as presenting small research grants to conduct health research in Timor-Leste.

The speakers and researchers at the Conference were from across the globe and of course from Timor-Leste. Senior members from the Ministry of Health (MoH), university academics and health partners participated in the conference, and delivered their findings to their research on diverse topics. The speakers are both national and international Including the  former Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Dr Rui Maria de Araujo.

Three researchers won small grants through the ASTEROID project funding to carry out research in Timor-Leste. The amount of USD 1,500 given to each researcher to support their research projects in the coming months. The Winning team was:

  • Dr Marcelo Amaral Mali (Does the delivery of Infectious Diseases at CHCs lead to appropriate triage of patients with respiratory illness?)
  • Dr Marcos Gomes (Does the provision of ASTEROID training at CHCs increase referral of samples for GeneXpert testing in TB suspects?)
  • Dr Anferida Monteiro Fernandes (Does the delivery of Infectious Diseases at CHCs lead to appropriate triage of patients with respiratory illness?) (similar to Dr Marecelo but approaching it from a different perspective.)



The research findings from these small grants will  be presented in the next conference in the coming year.