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Planning your elective: East Timor

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 01 August 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:0308292
  1. Mark Wilson, author of The Medic's Guide to Work and Electives around the World1
  1. 1University College Hospital, London

Mark Wilson gives you some tips on how to arrange an elective in East Timor

After the atrocities with Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (or East Timor or Timor-Lorosae) became fully independent in May 2002. The violence resulted in 60% of doctors fleeing the country and the theft of much medical equipment. For a country that already had horrific health problems, the war made things even worse. The situation is improving though. Obviously, with the formation of a new government, changes are rapid. Up to date information can be found on the government of East Timor's website (

You must discuss the possibility of doing an elective in East Timor with your occupational health department and seek the latest advice from the foreign office. The country is becoming a common destination for Australian students, but details for other students are sketchy. An elective here would, however, be a fascinating experience. In addition to the medicine, local attractions include Atauro Island (an ecotourism destination run by Oxfam) and trips to Suai and Mount Ramelau.


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