Speech of H.E. the Prime-Minister Taur Matan Ruak on the occasion of the Signing Ceremony Timor-Leste Commitment to Stop Tuberculosis Signing Ceremony
City 8 Hall, September 30th, 2021 at 4.30 p.m.
Honourable Minister of Health of the Eighth Constitutional Government
Your Excellency the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Timor-Leste
Your Excellency the World Health Organization Representative in Timor-Leste
Ending Tuberculosis, a highly contagious, disabling, and sometimes fatal disease, is not only an objective defined in the National Health Plan or in the Programme of the 8th Constitutional Government; it is a public health imperative and a constitutional duty undertaken towards our citizens, who wish to see the right to a healthy life become a reality.
Tuberculosis, being a disease with great power of transmission by the respiratory route and of contagious proximity, is considered a scourge for being one of the ten most deadly diseases in the world, and a serious obstacle for a society that wants to be modern and developed, affecting the quality of life of any person regardless of their economic and social position.
However, there is a high prevalence of this disease among the people who most need our help and concern, the most deprived, vulnerable, and disadvantaged people in the country, who, facing serious nutritional and poverty difficulties, are faced with the challenges of promoting healthy habits of nutrition, hygiene or prevention of infectious and contagious diseases.
Today we are gathered here to renew the great challenge assumed by the Country in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) and foreseen in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), signing with our development partners, a Timor-Leste’ Commitment to End Tuberculosis.
We hope to achieve, in the next five years, concrete and significant changes in the fight against this disease.
This hope will certainly be reinforced by the mobilization of new means and resources, in the fight led by the Ministry of Health at the national level, promoting new wills, establishing new partnerships, and implementing a new spirit of family and community-based health.
A spirit capable of promoting greater participation by citizens, local authorities, public and non-governmental organizations, in the common goal of creating a healthier country, free of diseases with available preventions and treatments, such as Tuberculosis.
We want to do more, with the available means, but we need everyone’s collaboration, in an integrated way, with multi-sectoral strategies, because Tuberculosis is not only an obligation of health authorities or a priority of Governments but a civic duty of every citizen.
Ladies and Gentlemen
International best practices show us that Ending Tuberculosis is not only the ambition of prevention or cure but a necessary and required measure for a good development process.
The desire for modernity, progress, innovation, entrepreneurship, productivity, and increased economic income can only be achieved with a well-trained, active and healthy population, representing the true wealth of a country.
Investing in the fight against Tuberculosis and other diseases with a high risk of contagion is not just an expense, but a wise decision by any Government that wants its People and its Country to succeed.
The commitment we sign today intends to do more and better, in the next 5 (five) years, for people at greater risk, people infected or disabled by this disease, with more work, more effort, more support, better assistance, and greater investment and solidarity allocated to this important Public Health priority.
A risk that affects about 508 people in every 100,000 inhabitants in Timor-Leste, which represents the second-highest incidence rate in the Southeast Asian region and one of the highest in the world.
We are not satisfied with these figures, nor are we resigned to the results obtained in recent years.
It is in this sense that today, as Head of Government, we renew our unbreakable Timor-Leste’s Commitment to End Tuberculosis!
A commitment that appeals to our participation in spreading the word and raising awareness among citizens, in identifying new cases, in referring them to specialized institutions, in the solidarity that these Timorese sisters and brothers deserve from us and that justifies greater assistance and coordinated support between the Government, civil society, religious leaders, local leaders, and families, in order to work together to prevent and cure this disease.
A commitment first and foremost to proximity, between services and citizens, if possible taking socialization and prevention campaigns to every home, door-to-door, according to the best examples of family health.
A commitment that takes advantage of the investments of development partners, among which we highlight the Global Fund, the Korean Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Migrations (IOM), the Government of Australia, and various civil society organizations, among others, to whom we are very grateful;
May also take advantage of the presence and training provided by specialized resources of international health professionals, technicians, and experts, to whom we express our deep gratitude.
Therefore, I conclude with a word of encouragement to all those who work daily with the families and victims of Tuberculosis in Timor-Leste. We count on your effort, commitment and dedication so that together we can put an end to Tuberculosis in the lives of the Timorese!
For a Timor-Leste Free of Tuberculosis!
For a Nation with healthy citizens, capable of developing their potential!
For a Country with good Public Health, more modern and Healthier!
May God bless us all
Thank you very much