What we do

Untreated heart disease is one of the biggest health challenges facing our neighbours in Timor-Leste.

With no access to local cardiac care or surgery, young people face disability and premature death from preventable, treatable rheumatic heart disease and other heart conditions. Many live their entire lives with worsening symptoms from heart defects that they were born with, conditions that can be readily fixed for those born in a developed country.

At East Timor Hearts Fund we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy good heart health.

We’re working with the government and health providers in Timor-Leste help make that happen. As well as immediate help for the most critical cases, we are tackling the root causes of poor heart health in Timor-Leste with research and advocacy and education and prevention projects.

Heart screening and surgery

Our volunteer medical team visits Timor-Leste at least three times a year to conduct heart screening clinics in the capital of Dili, and the remote districts.

We arrange surgery in Australia for the most critical cases. Before, during and after surgery, patients receive medical and social support through our volunteer medical and patient support teams and our partners in Timor-Leste. After surgery, patients can return to school and work, contributing to their families, communities and country.

Prevention and education

Timor-Leste has one of the world’s highest rates of rheumatic heart disease, but the good news is, it can be prevented and treated.

We're helping to tackle the root causes of poor heart health in Timor-Leste, by working to identify and treat those at risk of rheumatic heart disease. Our local health workers conduct educational sessions in villages to raise awareness of the symptoms of rheumatic heart disease and the infections that cause it. Our early intervention preventative penicillin program delivers regular medication to young people with conditions that can lead to rheumatic heart disease. We also offer health professional training, in Timor-Leste and Australia, to support local skills.

Research and advocacy

We are working to raise awareness of the looming rheumatic heart disease crisis in Timor-Leste.

In October 2016 we played a leading role in coordinating the first ever rheumatic heart disease prevalence study in Timor-Leste. Our volunteers screened 1400 school children over five days in the capital of Dili, and the remote districts. The Medical Journal of Australia has published the peer-reviewed results, showing that Timor-Leste has amongst the world's highest rates of rheumatic heart disease. We are continuing to work with the Government of Timor-Leste and the international health community to tackle rheumatic heart disease in Timor-Leste.

Dionezio's story

Dionezio has rheumatic heart disease, but regular penicillin keeps him healthy and well. We work alongside community heath workers to ensure Dionezio and young Timorese like him receive their penicillin, and we educate their families and the communities around them of the importance of good heart health.  

Teresinha's story

“There aren’t enough words to say thank you.” That's what paediatric nurse Teresinha da Costa said after her life-saving heart procedure at Royal Melbourne Hospital. Teresinha can now care for her young son, and is back at work at Guido Valadares National Hospital. 

Mending broken hearts - in less than two minutes!