Mon, 31 Oct 1994

Foreign investment in hospitals welcome

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia is opening its door for foreign businesses seeking to invest in hospitals on the condition that the directors be locals, Minister of Health Sujudi said Saturday.

"If they (the foreigners) want to become chiefs of the finance or administration section, there is no problem. But the director of the hospital must be an Indonesian," Sujudi said.

Another condition is that the foreign investors must have local counterparts.

In addition, the hospitals should not hire foreign physicians unless no Indonesian is qualified enough in the field, Sujudi added.

The minister admitted that Indonesia still lacks medical experts due to the rapid development of medical technology.

Sujudi said that he had received information from the Foreign Investment Board that two foreign investors wanted to establish hospitals in Jakarta and Tangerang, just west of here.

He said he remembered that one of the two was from Australia.

Not only Jakarta, but many other parts of the country are still in need of hospitals, Sujudi said, encouraging both local and foreign investors to do the business.

He underlined that the foreign investors should comply with the policy on the "social function" of hospitals.

Under the policy, hospitals should provide 25 percent of their beds to poor people free of charge. However, in many cases this policy does not seem to work because of the government's slack monitoring. What's more, it is likely that poor people would not dare enter the gate of an up-market hospital.

Therefore, the government has introduced a new policy to oblige luxury hospitals to provide funds for the development of community health centers.

"The MMC (Metropolitan Medical Center) has done it. And I think some other hospitals, too, have done the same thing," Sujudi said.

He encouraged private hospitals to take part in the government-sponsored health card program, scheduled to be launched on the National Health Day on Nov. 12. Under the new program, card holders will have access to free health service.(sim)