Surgical capacity building in Timor‐Leste: a review of the first 15 years of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons‐led Australian Aid programme

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Timor‐Leste only achieved independence in May 2002, following 400 years of colonial occupation by Portugal and 24 years of military occupation by Indonesia that ended with destruction of infrastructure. Few nations in recent times have had the opportunity to build a health service on what was effectively a blank canvas. With strong internal leadership and many supportive international partners, Timor‐Leste has taken substantial steps towards creating a new independent health system.1 Australia has been a major long‐term partner in surgical capacity building with an Australian government funded programme managed by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) since 2001. This article reviews the progress that has been made in surgical capacity building in Timor‐Leste, the contribution of the Australian Aid programme and illustrates the value of consistent and sustained support over a 15‐year period in achieving outcomes and making an impact.
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