Sat, 04 Nov 2000

Government to launch massive health campaign

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Health in cooperation with the private sector is set to launch a nationwide campaign in commemoration of the 36th Health Day, designed to promote better health as well as a better relationship between patients and healthcare professionals.

"Being healthy is everybody's basic human right," Minister of Health Achmad Sujudi said in a media briefing on Thursday.

In that sense, people have to be aware that having a long life expectancy (such as 65 in Indonesia) was not worth it if they were not healthy, he said.

"In the wake of regional autonomy, especially in the medical and health field, we want to remind people that as patients they have the right to be informed about their illness and what plans the doctor(s) have for them as well as what to do with their bodies," he said.

Achmad explained that for a long time most doctors had become used to "playing God" and playing a dominating role in respect of their patients.

"This must change. Every patient must have the chance of obtaining a second opinion (from another doctor) on the side effects of the medication. Patients should even have the right to refuse a particular course of treatment if they don't want it," the minister said.

Doctors and patients were partners, he stressed.

"And this awareness must be brought into the open. Previously, many doctors were offended if their patients asked for another doctor's opinion," Achmad said.

A series of health activities will be held across the country such as the officiation of the world's first Auto Disable Prefill Injection Device (Uniject) and Packaging System by PT Bio Farma Bandung, Hepatitis B immunization, and a health seminar in Jakarta featuring prominent speakers such as Emil Salim, Muladi and Sri Mulyani.

The highlight of the commemoration will take place at the National Monument on Nov. 12 when a huge banner bearing the motto "Indonesia Healthy 2010" will be raised by President Abdurrahman Wahid.

In Semarang, Batam and the disputed areas of Poso, Luwuk Banggai and several towns in Irian Jaya, the ministry in cooperation with the Navy will roll out the Surya Bhaskara Jaya social program to provide free medication and treatment for people living in remote areas.

"In Makassar, we will hold a seminar and inaugurate the Disaster Relief Brigade, which is a joint task force of medical and non-medical personnel that is being set up to deal with emergencies," the minister added.

Meanwhile, Azrul Azwar, the Director General of Public Health, said the bill on the public health service network (JPKM), which deals with the healthcare insurance and funding system, would be endorsed soon.

"The bill involves people contributing about 3 to 5 percent of their income for healthcare coverage," Azrul said.

With respect to the issue of autopsies, Minister Achmad called for further protection for forensic experts as many in the community are still ignorant about their function.

"In the case of the murder victim Fernando Helio Parada who was stabbed, forensic experts had to conduct an autopsy to determine the real cause of death as the victim may have died from other causes, such as a heart attack," Achmad said.

People must know that a forensic report is made based upon scientific judgments and is necessary in order to uphold justice, he said. "And in any suspicious case, an autopsy is a must since it is a requirement consistent with the legal processes being conducted by the police and the Attorney General's Office," he added. (edt)