Timor-Leste and KOICA sign an agreement for a project to improve health and reduce malnutrition in children

Fri. 21 of January of 2022, 12:07h

The Government of Timor-Leste, through the Ministry of Finance, on January 14th, 2022, signed an agreement with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), for the project “Say no to 5S (Starvation, Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis, Skin Disease, Smoking And Sugary/Alcoholic Drink) in Schools)”.

This four-year, US$ 7.86 million project's main objectives are to provide school children with a primary health package and health education to mitigate the risks of disease in schools in order to provide a safe and healthy environment, as well as safe and nutritious school meals.

The project will be implemented until 2025, in the municipalities of Baucau, Bobonaro and Manufahi, by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and with the participation of the government departments responsible for the areas of education and health. It is expected that the project will cover about 400 primary and pre-secondary school students from the aforementioned municipalities.

The Minister of Finance, Rui Augusto Gomes, in his intervention in the agreement-signing ceremony, stated that the "Timor-Leste Government is committed to the survival, development and protection of the Timorese children".

The Minister highlighted that "in the 2022 General State Budget, the Government introduced indicators concerning children (Markadór ba Labarik), the mother's scholarship programme – new generation (Bolsa da Mãe - jerasaun foun) and the school meal programme, in line with the National Strategic Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals".

Minister Rui Gomes also said "that the 8th Constitutional Government believes that investing in the reduction of malnutrition is not only a good investment but a strategic investment for our children. Only healthy and educated children will be well prepared and ready to lead the country in the future".

The Minister of Finance thanked the Government of South Korea and the Korean people for their generous support in solving this structural problem in Timor-Leste. He also extended his gratitude to the United Nations, through WHO and WFP, who are providing technical and administrative assistance to the project.

The South Korean Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Kim Jeong Ho, said "it is a great honour to represent the Korean Government in supporting the health and wellbeing of Timorese children through this project", highlighting that "with improved nutrition and health, children can better fight infectious diseases and develop their learning capacities".

The Representative of the United Nations Development Program in Timor-Leste, Munkhtuya Altangerel said that "through this project, we will work together to mitigate the risks of childhood diseases and malnutrition through a Primary Health package and health education in schools". She also assured that it will also be "a joint work for the improvement of schools and the creation of a healthy and safe environment for children to learn, which includes the provision of a nutritious and safe school lunch for children".

At the signing ceremony, Minister Rui Gomes was accompanied by the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Armindo Maia and the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Julião da Silva.