Fri, 05 Mar 1999

Patients deserve better meal, councilors say

JAKARTA (JP): City councilors expressed concern on Thursday over the slight increase in the meal allowance at public institutions in the city from Rp 2,000 per patient per day at present to Rp 3,000 per patient in the 1999/2000 city draft budget.

The allocation of Rp 3,000 per patient is far below the Rp 7,500 daily allotment for each animal at the at the city-owned Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta, they said.

The head of Commission E for social welfare, Soeparmo, said his commission would fight for an increase in the meal allowance to at least Rp 5,000 per person per day.

"Actually, we wanted the allocation to be increased to Rp 7,500, but we then lowered it after we realized it would be too difficult for the city administration to meet the request," he said.

Deputy head of the United Development Party faction Ali Imran Husein said that if the administration failed to increase the meal allowance, it indicate a disrespect for humanity.

"I think it (the gap between meal allowances for animals and human beings) is an insult to human dignity. I hope the administration will make a revision," he said.

In the 1999/2000 draft budget, the administration has allocated Rp 3.29 billion for meal allowances at the city's 21 public institutions in the city, which include orphanages, psychiatric centers and nursing homes. The 21 institutions are under the auspices of the city social services agency.

By comparison, the draft budget allots Rp 2.75 billion in meal allowances to more than 4,000 animals at the city's only zoo.

Soeparmo said the Rp 3,000 food allowance for breakfast, lunch and dinner was far from enough, especially with the sharp increase in food prices.

Less appetizing meals are now given to patients at the institutions due to the soaring prices of essential goods, especially after the massive riots in May which resulted in a drop in donors.

Due to increased costs, several institutions have been forced to change their menus so that patients are served only tempeh, tofu and rice. Fish, eggs and vegetables were removed from the menu several months ago.

Former social services agency head Emon Setia Sumantri said that if there was no improvement, managements feared they would be forced to serve patients only two meals a day instead of three. (ind)