Doctor Onofria Maria do Amaral Guterres has been overseeing the Viqueque Community Health Centre's maternity ward for the past two years.
For critical cases she and her team must stabilise the patient and then refer them to the regional hospital in Baucau, which is better resourced. But with rough and broken roads the trip can take over three hours.
There’s also only one functioning ambulance and this could wear out quickly due to the poor quality of the roads. Some mothers and their babies don’t make it.
"I have to decide and discuss with the family
and the patient that if we refer them to Baucau,
there’s a possibility they will die on the way."
The roads in parts of Timor-Leste can prevent pregnant mothers and their newborns from reaching medical care in time.
© UNICEF Australia/Porritt
"Since 2017, there are no mothers among our patients who have died, but for babies there was one we referred to Baucau who passed away on the way. "
The baby’s condition was normal after birth, but later that night, nine hours after the birth Doctor Onofria was called by the midwife.
“The baby’s condition was not good, she was having difficulty breathing. I came straight away to see her condition and put her on oxygen. We repeated suction and contacted ambulance to refer her [to the hospital in Baucau]. Unfortunately, she passed away on the way.”