Question: you mentioned that if you won the money you would support east timor, what area would you be supporting and why do they need support??

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  1. The St John of God Pathology (SJOGP) involvement in Timor started in 2005 when a phlebotomist from Murdoch visited Timor and saw the great need there. She came back and spoke to our CEO, and it ended up in a memorandum of understanding with the Timor Government to assist in providing pathology services for the country. The violence and other issues in Timor resulted in there being very few staff a)left alive and b) with any knowledge to be able to provide a pathology service. So our aim was/is to upskill their lab staff, by providing training, equipment and on the ground support to enable them to become self sufficient.

    Before we were there, they were making up results because the machine wasn’t working, or because they didn’t have reagents; Drs, mostly overseas volunteers would then treat based on the results (eg high or low sodiums- simple stuff they could treat) and unfortunately end up killing their patient. Heart breaking stuff.

    So, now, they have brand new this year biochem analysers and older haematology analysers, a semi-reliable reagent delivery service, a number of Timorese scientists that have been trained in Australia, stable lab staff, plus 2 SJOG pathology caregivers who live in Timor and help keep it all ticking along (slowly!!). They are about to get LabTrak (which is the computer system SJOGP uses to manage all the results)- using computers in general for them will be a huge deal.

    They do a lot of rapid testing (for dengue, HIV, Hep B, Hep C as well). Infection rates for all of those are quite high- it’s a 3rd world country after all. TB as well, although we don’t have anything much to do with that.

    So things that the money could go towards- general lab supplies- pipettes, timers, thermometers, glassware- they usually have an order/delivery system once a year- and if anything breaks or runs out in between, it’s a bit too bad. We try and help by sending stuff up with the people that go up, but it’s not incredibly often.

    There are other things they could use it for- stuff we take for granted- I’m told they only have 1 fridge in some of the labs (haven’t been to all of them), so their lunch goes in with the reagents/samples……..

    We haveactually got seven laboratories that SJOG pathology currently supports in East Timor – 2 in Dili- National Lab and Hospital lab, Baucau, Maubessi, Maliana, Oecussi and Suai. Most of our work and staff arre currently based in Dili, but we have done training and supplied equipment for the other labs and provide ongoing support when needed.