Thu, 09 Nov 2000

Govt should give more care to health

JAKARTA (JP): Senior economist Emil Salim called on the government on Wednesday to pay more attention to healthcare and make the issue a priority in its development programs.

Emil, former state minister of environment, told a seminar on Wednesday that the government had abandoned the issue.

"Decision makers think health issues are not politically 'sexy'. They rarely put health matters on their agenda," he said.

"Health has been considered an external factor in development schemes," he added.

He said patients were forced to bear health costs.

"By allocating for healthcare costs in the development budget, health services can be made free of charge," he said.

Healthcare professionals, Emil added, are excluded from economic development committees and therefore unable to push for healthcare issues in government policies.

"On the other hand, other development sectors contribute to illnesses, for example, by causing pollution" he said.

Tax policies, he said, were only designed to earn income and did not consider public health, citing taxes on vegetable, fruits and milk.

"Therefore, health should be included as important factor in economic development," Emil said.

The seminar also marked the establishment of Healthy Indonesia 2010 Foundation (YIS2010), a nonprofit organization aimed at promoting better health and increasing people's awareness on health.

One of YIS2010's founders, the newly-elected chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Association Farid Anfasa Moeloek said healthcare have long been only perceived as a way to cure illnesses.

"While, it's actually much wider than that," he told reporters.

Healthcare, Farid said, should be perceived as people's basic right and an investment for the future.

Other sectors that contribute to illness, like factories which cause pollution, should be penalized for violating people's rights, he added.

"If there is an Environmental Impact Assessment, there should also be Health Impact Assessment," he said.

In an effort to disseminate more information on health issues, the foundation has launched a health portal on

On Wednesday afternoon, the Center for Health Service Management of Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University's School of Medicine, also launched a health website during the Indonesian Hospitals Association (Persi) Congress at the Jakarta Convention Center.

The website is focusing on decentralization of health services and can be accessed at

The website will also be a communication forum for those involved in the decentralization process.

" Latest information, research and literature on health are also available at this website," Laksono Trisnantoro, director of the center and a lecturer at Gadjah Mada University's School of Medicine, told reporters.

Also provided at the website are other countries' experiences in implementing health service decentralization, a mailing list and message board, links to online media and University Gadja Mada's activities related to health service decentralization.

"This website hopefully will build a network between healthcare professionals in the regions and in the capital," Laksono said. (hdn)