IOM Backs Timor-Leste Health Ministry TB Screening

Migration Health

Dili – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, working in partnership with Timor-Leste’s Health Ministry through the National Tuberculosis Program, has begun screening for Tuberculosis (TB) at the Falintil-Forca Defeza de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL) HQ in Dili.

Today (23/10), at the opening ceremony attend by representatives from the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Defence and the World Health Organization (WHO), the IOM Migration Health team screened 140 military personnel for TB.

IOM Chief of Mission Wonesai Workington Sithole highlighted the importance of today’s screening with the F-FDTL. “Migration health management which includes TB screening is fundamental to our human survival and if not taken seriously, development gains and national security will be at risk,” he said.

The algorithm used to screen military personal from the F-FDTL has been specifically developed by IOM and WHO to increase the accuracy of case detection. It comprises of an awareness session that introduces symptoms, risks, diagnosis and treatment for TB; a questionnaire to identify symptoms; followed by a chest x-ray, if symptoms are present.

Abnormal x-rays require a sputum sample to be taken for screening using the latest molecular testing technology, commonly known as GenXpert, and patients with a positive sputum sample are referred to the MoH for treatment.  The screening aims to ensure appropriate diagnosis and the initiation of treatment, as well as improve health-seeking behaviours through increased access to TB information and services.

IOM has been working with the MoH National Tuberculosis Program to carry out systematic screening for early detection of Tuberculosis in selected municipalities throughout Timor-Leste since 2017.  The program ‘Systematic Screening for TB among High Risk Groups in Timor-Leste’ is a first of its kind and in 2018, 6,768 people have been screened for TB. Screening is expected to continue in Dili, Ermera, Bobonaro and Covalima.

For more information please contact IOM Timor-Leste. Wonesai Workington Sithole, Tel +670 331 3038, Email:  or Cecilia McIntosh, Tel. +670 331 3038, Email:

  • Timor-Leste military personnel take part in the launch of a TB screening program in Dili. Photo: IOM

  • Timor-Leste military personnel take part in the launch of a TB screening program in Dili. Photo: IOM