Thu, 04 May 2000

Salary hike for public-service doctors

JAKARTA (JP): Doctors and dentists assigned to community health centers got a government pledge on Wednesday to raise basic salaries by 100 percent.

But it took a personal telephone call from Minister of Finance Bambang Sudibyo to convince doctor and dentist representatives from seven provinces in Java and Sumatra that their demands had been met.

The doctors apparently were not satisfied with the promises of Minister of Health Achmad Sujudi who met them at his office.

Sujudi then personally called Bambang to confirm the raise with the doctors listening on a speakerphone.

Bambang asserted that the raise had long been planned and the money already allocated in the State Budget.

"The raise was effective from April 2000," Achmad said, adding that the money would be back paid.

A 1991 Presidential decree requires medical school graduates to serve in local community centers as non-permanent employees for three years in non-remote areas or two years in remote areas.

According to Achmad, the purpose of the obligatory assignments is to ensure that the poor have access to adequate health service.

"Health (service) is for the public good, we can't just leave it to market mechanisms. If that happens, only the rich will have access to it," Achmad said.

However, doctors and dentists doing community service have long complained that they have not been adequately compensated while serving their internship.

"The salary is an insult to our profession, only encouraging us to be unprofessional," Rully Nur Aman, a representative from West Java, told the minister.

He added that the current salary level has not been raised since 1993.

The basic salary of public service doctors and dentists stood at Rp 400,000 per month.

Along with various allowances, those assigned to non-remote areas received a salary of about Rp 500,000 per month while those assigned in remote and very remote areas, Rp 850,000 and 1,050,000 respectively.

The chairman of the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) Merdias Almatsier, who also attended the meeting, said the young doctors and the dentists deserved the raise given their greater responsibility relative to other professions. (08)