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:


estimated population carrying TB bacteria


of deaths in Timor-Leste attributed to TB


TB treatment in Timor-Leste delivered by the clinic

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 Treatment Program

Month treatment program

TB patients per year

patients graduated TB free from the program since 2012

“We don’t have to pay, we just have to drink”

– mother with child on preventative TB medicine, taken as a liquid for ease of administration.

Geographical and economic barriers have resulted in unsatisfactory rates of adherence to the 6-month course of treatment required to cure TB.

The significant burden of undiagnosed TB in Timor-Leste, the protracted period of symptoms in those who are diagnosed and the high rates of treatment default, all contribute to ongoing spread of the disease that has seen rates of TB remain extremely high since Timor-Leste achieve independence in 2002 and the commencement of the National Treatment Program in 2005. In 2014, Maluk Timor, operating as BPC, received a grant from the English Family Foundation to institute a program of isoniazid preventive therapy for young children at high risk of TB disease. This program is crucial to prevent TB infection in the most vulnerable age group. In association with this important prevention activity, additional funding is needed to further develop all aspects of the TB program at BPC and to build the capacity of local healthcare staff.

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.

“The most important thing about TB treatment is making sure the patients come to get their medicine every day.

If the patient doesn’t turn up then it’s up to the team to go out and find them.”

Learn More about MDR-TB

Anti-tuberculosis (TB) drug resistance is a major public health problem that threatens progress made in TB care and control worldwide. Drug resistance arises due to improper use of antibiotics in chemotherapy of drug-susceptible TB patients. This improper use is a result of a number of actions including, administration of improper treatment regimens and failure to ensure that patients complete the whole course of treatment. Essentially, drug resistance arises in areas with weak TB control programmes. A patient who develops active disease with a drug-resistant TB strain can transmit this form of TB to other individuals. – World Health Organisation

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