Op-ed published in Today, Oct. 25, 2013
By Tom Benner
There is a free health clinic in Dili, the capital of Asia’s newest and poorest country, Timor-Leste, that treats some 400 people a day. The doctor who runs it was telling me about the kinds of cases he generally treats — tuberculosis, malaria, dengue, typhoid, malnutrition, stunting, poor growth, pregnancy complications.
Dr Dan Murphy is actually happy about this. Back before Timor-Leste became a country in 2002, he treated gunshot wounds, machete wounds, victims of torture and hand grenade victims.
What passes for progress in Timor-Leste is a lot like that. The war zone days are over, but the patient at the door has new problems with endemic causes. Now that United Nations (UN) peacekeepers are gone and the civil unrest has quieted, the challenges of governing a very poor country and inexperienced democracy seem far greater than anticipated in the hopefulness of its first sovereign days. Continue reading …