As a GP in Timor Leste, Dr Merita Monteiro saw lots of examples of communicable disease in her clinic. Thanks to the partnership between CDU, the Menzies School of Health Research and the Ministry of Health in Timor-Leste, Dr Monteiro is learning from the best to help tackle these diseases in her home country while she's studying public health.
When Merita graduated with a medical degree in Cuba back in 2011, she had no idea that eventually she’d end up in Darwin studying a Master of Public Health.
After I graduated, I was sent to work as a GP in the “Viqueque” municipality in Timor-Leste
"I loved my job as GP, working at the hospital helping people and giving them health promotion advice," says Merita. "After only a few years working as GP, I was appointed to work at the Ministry of Health in the Department of Communicable Disease.”
It was here that Merita worked on countering a range of communicable diseases including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, dengue fever and other neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy – diseases she’d seen regularly in her practice.
After several visits to Darwin and mentoring by the Northern Territory Centre for Disease Control, Merita has taken leave from her role in Timor Leste. She is now living in Darwin studying her Master of Public Health, working in partnership with Menzies on improving the health of Timorese people.
What motivated me to study public health is my background as GP, as well as my experience working in the public health area, specifically with communicable disease
Merita is part of the STRONG TL program, an initiative funded by the DFAT Indo Pacific Centre for Health Security, designed to strengthen communicable disease surveillance and control in Timor-Leste. It’s about developing local capacity at selected sentinel sites and evaluating how that capacity development improves outcomes, including improving the ability to measure changes in disease trends.
This program is able to be successful thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding between Menzies and the Ministry of Health in Timor-Leste; a partnership that builds on years of collaboration and cooperation between CDU, Menzies and Timor-Leste.
That partnership led Merita to CDU and now she is relishing her opportunity to study and then take her expanded knowledge back to Timor-Leste.
CDU is the best place to study. The environment is good, students and lecturers are very friendly and caring. They want everyone to achieve their goal
In closing, Merita says, "After I complete my study at CDU, my commitment is to go back to my home country and work with the Ministry of Health Timor-Leste again so that I can share the skills and knowledge I got from CDU and strengthen our public health response to disease.”