US co-op grocers support farming communities in Timor-Leste

A grant has enabled a coffee co-op to provide healthcare services to farmers in remote villages

A coffee co-op in Timor-Leste is making a difference to farmers in need of medical services.

Over 10,000 coffee farmers and their families in Timor-Leste (East Timor) have received medical assistance backed by a US$30,000 grant from the National Co+op Grocers in the USA.

Through the grant, coffee co-op Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT) was able to run a mobile clinic to provide medical services to seven rural coffee farming communities in central Timor-Leste. With 24,000 members, CCT is the country’s largest private sector employer and healthcare service provider.

The co-op started offering primary healthcare services to members in 2000. Since then, it has provided 2.5 million health treatments to 110,000 people in coffee farmer families and communities, becoming the country’s largest healthcare provider. The mobile clinic enables the co-op to offer such services to remote coffee farming communities in Letefoho and Atsabe sub-districts of Ermera District in central Timor-Leste. 

The clinic is made up of five staff members who travel to rural villages and make house calls. Services offered include medical consultations, maternity care, school health lessons and dental treatments.

The clinic also works to lower Timor-Leste’s high maternal and neonatal mortality rate offering supervised birthing options at a family birthing suite or by home delivery supervised by the mobile team’s midwife.

It screened 372 children under the age of five, offering follow-up consultations to determine their nutritional status. Less than 1% were found to be at risk of or suffering from malnutrition, and 97% of children using CCT health services had completed their full schedule of immunisations before age two.

The co-op is able to provide healthcare services using premiums earned on Fairtrade and other certifications from its coffee exports, with additional support for medications from the government of Timor-Leste.

The grant was awarded through the Cooperative Development Foundation, the non-profit affiliate of NCBA CLUSA, who acted as a fiscal sponsor.