The debate over Indonesian patients preferring to receive medical treatment abroad

2023-03-13 Galbino

By kumparanNEWS in Indonesian

President Jokowi said there were 2 million Indonesians who chose to seek treatment abroad rather than at home. He conveyed this after attending the inauguration of Mayapada Hospital Bandung, West Java, last Monday (6/3).

"Because of the information I received, almost 2 million of our people still go abroad for treatment when they are sick. Even though we have hospitals like this. Nearly 2 million," Jokowi said.

According to Jokowi, around 1 million people choose to seek treatment in Malaysia, 750 thousand seek treatment in Singapore and the rest seek treatment in Japan, the United States and Germany.

Not only complaining about the 2 million people who prefer to seek treatment abroad, Jokowi also touched on the problem of the lack of specialist doctors and subspecialist doctors in Indonesia. According to him, good hospital facilities must be supported by a good number of specialist doctors.

"I really support the construction of hospitals that are more or less like Mayapada Hospital Bandung. Indeed, the problem is that we still have domestic problems. There are still not enough specialist doctors or sub-specialist doctors. I have told the Minister of Health that this must be taken care of," said Jokowi.

According to WHO standards, the ratio between the patient and the presence of an ideal doctor is 1:1000. However, when viewed from the data from the Ministry of Health, the existence of specialist doctors spread across 36 provinces, none has yet been able to reach a ratio of 1:1000.

In fact, DKI Jakarta as the center of the capital city in Indonesia is only able to provide 18,637 specialist doctors with a ratio of 1:1668.

PB Chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) dr. Adib Khumaidi also spoke about this. According to him, each district/city must have at least 7 specialist doctors.

"These seven (specialist doctors) are one thing in general that each district/city must have," Adib explained, Thursday (13/10/2022)

Adib regretted that around 42 percent of regencies/cities in Indonesia did not yet have these 7 main medical specialists. Even though the existence of 7 main medical specialists is the main need for patients.

"The problem now is that we still have 42% of the data that has not met the 7 specialists in the area, it is still lacking," he said.

The Ministry of Health said about Indonesian patients preferring treatment abroad

The Head of the Ministry of Health's Communication and Public Service Bureau, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, revealed the reason why some Indonesians prefer to seek treatment abroad.

Unequal health facilities and services, especially in areas far from big cities and capital cities, are one of the main triggers.

"There are often quite long lines, plus those from Medan have to go to Jakarta, so maybe it's closer to Penang, Malaysia," he said.

Nadia also did not deny that the price of medicines and medical procedures in Indonesia is sometimes higher than that of other countries.

For this reason, his party will improve facilities and infrastructure in Indonesia evenly, so that patients do not need to go abroad to get the same health services as in big cities in Indonesia or the capital city, Jakarta.

"The prices for drugs and procedures are often high, convenience is also [a factor]. In the future, we will prepare facilities and infrastructure and human resources so that all Regency/City and Provincial Hospitals can provide services," he said.

IDI said about the triggers for Indonesian patients to prefer medical treatment to foreign countries

According to Dr. Adib Khumaidi, there are a number of factors that have triggered hospitals in Indonesia not to be seen by the public.

He said, the problem of communication between doctors and patients is one of them. According to him, there are doctors in Indonesia who still need to improve the way they communicate with patients, such as listening to patient complaints.⁠

"(The problem is) communication. Actually, Indonesian doctors with good communication, listen more to patient complaints, then they will be able to feel it," he told journalists.⁠

Apart from that, another trigger relates to hospital costs which are more expensive in Indonesia than abroad due to tax implementation.

Link from kumparanNEWS in Indonesian