Wed, 16 Jul 2003

Planned hospital offers alternative treatment

Multa Fidrus The Jakarta Post Tangerang, Banten

To undergo medical treatment here is like shopping: The more money you have the better the product or service you get.

On the other hand, medical conditions identified recently, like AIDS and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), still have no cure and claim the lives of those who cannot afford expensive medical treatment.

"Allah has given us water and plants that can cure various diseases, so why should we spend a lot of money on medicine, hospitals or doctors' fees?" said paranormal Tb. Barce Banten, director-to-be of the planned alternative hospital built by the Indonesian Paranormals Association (IPI) in Tangerang, Banten.

People suffering from diseases that cannot medically be cured after long treatment at hospital are expected to get a second chance once the alternative hospital, claimed to be the largest in Southeast Asia, is operational and open to the public in 2005.

Barce, chairman of IPI's Banten branch, said that Banten's alternative treatment had even gained popularity abroad, especially that for treating broken bones. He also claimed he could cure AIDS, something that medical science has yet to find.

The plan to build the alternative hospital came from IPI president Norullah Marzuki, who has previously set up and managed alternative clinics in Jakarta, Medan, Pekanbaru, Semarang and Denpasar with the assistance of 250 workers.

The idea to build the hospital in Tapos village near Tangerang regency's capital, Tigaraksa, was taken because of Banten's popularity for providing alternative treatment.

The presence of the hospital was also expected to reduce the number of unscrupulous quack paranormals who tainted the image of alternative treatment by providing false treatment and extorting money from gullible people.

Barce said the presence of the hospital was also expected to reduce the number of people who sought medical treatment abroad.

"Many wealthy Indonesians go overseas for expensive medical treatment overseas, simply because they believe in the sophisticated medical technology used there. We also want to prove that many foreign patients will come to Banten (to visit the alternative hospital)," he said.

The hospital, Barche said, was not intended to disregard medical doctors by effectively accusing them of being unable to treat patients. Instead, IPI will also employ medical doctors and nurses at the hospital. Only when patients cannot be cured by medical doctors will they be given alternative treatment at the hospital, as stated in Article 12 of the IPI code of ethics.

He also gave an assurance that treatment fees would be affordable. Poor patients who came with a letter from the village or subdistrict head would have their fees waived, and would be given transportation money to get back to their houses after going through treatment at the hospital.

According to Chandra Yossi, a paranormal and lawyer who has been entrusted as project officer for the construction work, initial funds of Rp 10 billion for the three-story building on a two-hectare plot of land were allocated by the IPI president.

Chandra, who is also secretary of the IPI branch in Banten, said that it would train 200 people at an appointed foundation before they were officially employed at the hospital.

Tangerang regency's health agency, however, claimed it was not notified about the hospital construction plan.

"All letters or information coming to this agency come to me first, but so far we do not know about a plan for the construction of an alternative hospital," said agency deputy chief Endang Hendarto.

He said that thus far, the Ministry of Health did not officially recognize alternative treatment, as it lacked scientific support. The government, he said, only recognized some treatment that used traditional medicinal herbs.