Indonesia to Employ Foreign Medical Professionals to Address Doctor Shortage

Foreign Medical Professionals
Indonesia to Employ Foreign Medical Professionals to Address Doctor Shortage

In response to the critical shortage of healthcare workers providing priority services for Cancer, Heart, Stroke, and Uronephro (KJSU) cases, the Indonesian Ministry of Health (Kemenkes) is planning to employ foreign medical professionals. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to enhance healthcare services across the country.

Director General of Health Services, Azhar Jaya, emphasized the urgency of the situation, highlighting that Indonesia’s doctor-to-population ratio stands at a mere 0.46 per 1,000 people. “This ratio places Indonesia far behind neighboring countries like Malaysia and Singapore, which boast doctor ratios above 1 per 1,000 population,” Jaya stated in an official announcement on Thursday, June 13, 2024.

To tackle this issue, Kemenkes is leveraging the expertise of foreign medical professionals for knowledge transfer activities, particularly in specialized healthcare areas where local expertise is either scarce or nonexistent.

“The need for knowledge transfer aims to accelerate mastery in specific fields such as heart transplantation, management of congenital heart defects in infants and children, and the development of precision medicine in Indonesia,” Jaya explained.

One notable implementation of this program occurred at the Adam Malik General Hospital (RSUP) in Medan, North Sumatra. This initiative, in collaboration with King Salman (KS) Relief and the Muslim World League from Saudi Arabia, involved knowledge transfer and free heart surgeries for underprivileged patients.

“A medical team of 22 people from Saudi Arabia will continue to assist in saving lives and providing advanced open-heart surgery skills to Indonesian doctors,” Jaya said.

He further mentioned that many Kemenkes hospitals, serving as educational facilities for specialist and subspecialist doctors, have already engaged in technology transfer through partnerships with foreign medical professionals. “These collaborations are essential for advancing our healthcare capabilities,” he added.

The implementation of this program adheres to existing regulations and provisions. Jaya emphasized the importance of hospital directors conducting thorough needs assessments and proposing program requirements based on their specific situations.

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President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has also expressed concern over the low doctor ratio in the country. “I was shocked [by the doctor ratio] of 0.47, ranking 147th in the world. Very low indeed, and in ASEAN, we are ranked 9th, meaning in the bottom three. This is a problem with the numbers that we need to openly address,” he remarked during the launch of the Hospital-Based Specialist Doctor Education Program (RSP-PU) at Harapan Kita Mother and Child Hospital (RSAB) in West Jakarta on Monday, May 6, 2024.

Over the past six months, President Jokowi has been actively visiting various regions across Indonesia, focusing on inspecting hospitals and health centers (Puskesmas). This hands-on approach underscores the government’s commitment to improving healthcare infrastructure and addressing the shortage of medical professionals in the country.