Thu, 10 Mar 2005

Sutiyoso defends new hospital status

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Despite mounting protests against the corporatization of three city-run hospitals, Governor Sutiyoso refuses to reverse the decision.

In a letter dated Mar. 8, Sutiyoso told the Ministry of Home Affairs that the policy could be revoked through a presidential decree or a Supreme Court ruling.

"The main objective of the change of status is to boost the quality of service to the public," Sutiyoso asserted, arguing that the change of status would not affect its preferential treatment for the poor.

The ministry of home affairs sent a letter to the Jakarta administration last Feb. 14, urging it to revoke its decision to turn three hospitals -- RSUD Pasar Rebo, RS Haji in Pondok Gede, both in East Jakarta, and RSUD Cengkareng in West Jakarta -- into profit-oriented hospitals.

The ministry argued that the corporatization of the three hospitals was "against the common good of the people".

Sutiyoso said Article 145 of Law No. 32/2004 on regional governments stipulates that any revocation of a city bylaw can only be carried out through a presidential decree or judicial review made by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, around 500 residents of Gedong, Ciracas, Cijantung and Pondok Gede subdistricts -- all located near the Pasar Rebo hospital -- staged a rally in front of the City Council on Wednesday to protest the hospital's "high" health service fees.

"After the change of status, Pasar Rebo hospital raised its registration fee from Rp 2,000 to Rp 5,000, not to mention the increased service fees," said Pius Toa, a resident of Gedong subdistrict in East Jakarta.

Pius said the increase was too much for residents on a low- income.

City Health Agency head Abdul Chalik Masulili emphasized earlier that the change in status was only meant to give leeway to the respective hospital managements to manage their own resources and raise fund from sources other than the cash- strapped city budget, including by taking profit from richer patients.

Masulili said that the agency would still require those hospitals to maintain a minimum 50 percent of their total rooms, emergency room services (UGD) and out-patient services for the poor.

Aside from those three hospitals, the administration also plans to corporatize three other city-run hospitals -- Tarakan Hospital in Central Jakarta, Koja Hospital in North Jakarta and Budi Asih Hospital in East Jakarta.