Tuberculosis (TB)

Timor-Leste's leading cause of death

Help stamp out TB in Timor-Leste

Maluk Timor works in collaboration with the National TB program.

In Timor-Leste:


of patients with tuberculosis in Timor-Leste face catastrophic financial costs


of deaths in Timor-Leste attributed to TB


of people with TB in Timor-Leste were un-diagnosed in 2017

What is TB?

Tuberculosis is a devastating disease and the leading cause of death in Timor-Leste. TB is caused by an infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

It most commonly affects the lungs and can present with chronic cough and coughing blood but it can also infect almost any part of the body.

TB is spread person-to-person in the air, but the nature of TB means that it is usually spread through long and persistent exposure. Treating this slow-growing bacterial infection carries many challenges.

Maluk Timor Tuberculosis Program

patients diagnosed with TB in Timor-Leste in 2017

households expected to benefit from the Maluk Timor household contact program

Minimum number of tablets taken per day by patients with drug resistant TB on top of injections

Young children who are exposed to TB are much more likely to develop severe or possibly fatal TB. This can be easily prevented by treating these children with preventative therapy.

Taking 6 months of treatment for TB is very difficult for patients. They often stop early because they feel better and do not understand why it is important to complete treatment. We believe education is very important to help patients understand.”

There is a significant burden of undiagnosed TB in Timor-Leste. Poor diagnostic resources, with a lack of community awareness contribute to ongoing spread of the disease. This has led to Timor-Leste continuing to suffer from extremely high rates of TB.

 Maluk Timor works shoulder-to-shoulder with Ministry of Health employees to help identify key obstacles to quality TB care and find collaborative solutions to these problems. In the facilities we support we have seen significant progress in the detection, diagnosis, treatment and counselling of patients with tuberculosis, saving lives and preventing further spread of the disease.  Maluk Timor is also proud to be providing clinical support to Klibur Domin, Timor-Leste’s only organisation providing treatment and care to patients with drug resistant TB. 

 The team are now focussed on improving the government’s household contact screening activities and the provision of preventative therapy to vulnerable exposed children. This has been found to be the most effective strategy in identifying new cases and saving lives. 

Patients must take their medicine for the entire treatment period to reduce the development of multi drug resistant TB or MRTB.

The TB Team getting ready to check up on patients across the country.

“In 2018 over half of the patients with TB in Timor were not diagnosed and started on treatment. Due to the way TB is spread we believe one of the most effective strategies to reduce the burden of TB in Timor-Leste is to visit the homes of patients with TB to find these undiagnosed patients.”

Learn More about MDR-TB

TB drug resistance is a major public health problem that threatens progress made in TB care and control worldwide. Drug resistant TB is TB that is unable to be treated by some of the most effective medicines for TB.

This may develop due to incorrect administration of treatment regimens, or failure to ensure that patients complete the whole course of treatment. A patient who develops active disease with a drug-resistant TB strain can transmit this form of TB to other individuals.

A treatment course for drug resistant TB is a gruelling 20 months of medications, including injections that may require a prolonged inpatient stay.

These medications have many side effects including fatigue, nausea, or even irreversible deafness or loss of balance.  This can be catastrophic to a patient’s livelihood and impacts significantly on their ability to look after their family.

Learn more about MDR-TB from the world health organisation.
Learn More About the END TB strategy
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