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This article reports on a needs analysis undertaken to determine the educational needs of nurses and health workers in East Timor. The needs analysis, which used a theoretical framework described by Wass (1994), was conducted in both Australia and East Timor. It addressed the current health status of the East Timorese people and the educational requirements of East Timorese nurses and village health workers. Utilizing interviews, field observations and data from the World Health Organization and the United Nations, the following four categories of needs were assessed: felt; expressed; comparative; and normative. The findings document the almost complete destruction of the health infrastructure in East Timor and demonstrate the urgent need for assistance in the re-establishment and enhancement of nursing and primary health care education programmes. A series of recommendations outlining nurse and village health care worker education programmes are proposed.