Thursday, November 3, 2016
Indonesia - Govt woos specialists to work in regions
Bracing for a stream of foreign medical professionals entering the country after the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the government is devising a set of incentives to encourage local specialists to work in the regions.
The Health Ministry hopes the incentives will lure surgeons, pediatricians, internists, obstetricians and anesthetists to areas in short supply of specialists for at least a year.
The plan also aims to keep local specialists competitive compared to the foreign doctors that will soon be allowed to move freely between countries in Southeast Asia.
The ministry’s Director General of Community Services, Bambang Wibowo, when opening the Indonesian Medical Council (KKI) national coordination meeting in Surabaya, East Java, said foreign doctors would make efforts to take over regions in Indonesia that have a shortage of doctors.
“The number of specialists is very limited in those regions, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia as well as in border regions and on islands. This requires awareness of the doctors that they are needed there,” said Bambang Wibowo in Surabaya on Tuesday.
Indonesia, according to Bambang, has become a lucrative market for players in the health service. Doctors are still in short supply at many of the country’s 9,754 community health centers (Puskesmas) and 2,573 hospitals. Moreover, the population of Indonesia is estimated to reach 270 million people in 2020, which would include a significant number of middle-income earners able to afford private health care.
The policy to assign specialists to areas that lack doctors for at least a year is backed up by an existing program to assign teams of newly-graduated physicians, dentists, midwives and health analysts to remote areas in a bid to cover the shortage of doctors in Indonesia.
Based on KKI data, Indonesia currently has 175,410 registered doctors, 31,414 of whom are specialists.
KKI chairman Bambang Supriyatno said synergy between all stakeholders was needed to address the issue.
“This month, we will discuss domestic regulations in response to the potential and threat of the influx of foreign doctors to Indonesia,” said Bambang.
At the same occasion, University of Defense professor Rear Admiral (ret.) Setyo Harnowo said Indonesia faced no obvious military threats from outside in the next 10 years, but it faced non-military ones instead.
“Indonesia is facing the threat of a proxy war, or a weakening of the nation using non-military means, such as economic and health threats, and the health threats must be faced by those in the health sector,” said Setyo.
Separately, House of Representatives Commission IX chairman Dede Yusuf Macan Effendi, who also spoke at the forum, said he was encouraging the Health Ministry and KKI to maintain an equal distribution of doctors across Indonesia.
The Democratic Party politician related his experience in meeting with the regent of Membramo in Papua, who he said was willing to provide Rp 50 million as “settling-down” cash, aside from regular income and other facilities, to specialists willing to serve in the regency.
“Seeing that the administration is willing to give Rp 50 million, imagine the desire of the regency to have specialists there,” said Dede.
Dede urged KKI to encourage the presence of medical schools in regions with a shortage of doctors, because doctors generally gathered in campuses with medical schools.