Health Care Access in Indonesia
Health care access in Indonesia is expanding due to U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) support as the USTDA approved on January 26, 2023, a grant to present to Indonesia’s Ministry of Health (MoH). The grant will finance the research and development of a National Imagining Data Repository (NIDR), which will enable “healthcare providers to reach, diagnose and treat underserved communities across Indonesia using a cloud-based centralized warehouse for patient information,” according to the USTDA website. This push for innovative digital health care technology will strengthen Indonesia’s health care system after the COVID-19 pandemic revealed several shortcomings. GE Healthcare, based in Illinois, is partnering with the MoH on the project.

The State of Health Care in Indonesia

As of 2021, more than 40% of Indonesia’s population lives in rural areas. These people stand as a focal point in this health care access expansion. Indonesia has a limited number of doctors typically situated in urban centers. The fact that, as of 2021, Indonesia had only about 6.95 doctors per 10,000 people supports this.

People in Indonesia saw an increase in access to health care in 2014 when the National Health Insurance program began. Indonesia spends just 3.2% of its GDP on health care, which is lower than other comparable countries, but experts project that this will rise.

With this in mind, there is much to do to increase access to health care in Indonesia, especially considering 3.6% of the population (9.8 million people) lives under the international poverty line as of 2021. However, the government is actively focusing on better serving those across the nation through the USTDA’s support.

Diving into the Project

“Indonesia is placing considerable focus on the digitalization of its health care sector, to strengthen its resilience using innovative technology and to support economic growth,” stated Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA’s director, in a press release.

“USTDA’s pilot will initially focus on sending radiology and cardiology images to a cloud-hosted environment that will provide a centralized location to view all patient medical information for referring physicians from 10 hospitals in the greater Jakarta region,” the press release explains.

After this process is in motion, it will provide a baseline for larger data cumulation and clinical partnering all around Indonesia. The NIDR will be able to expand to “serve as a platform for a variety of other patient types,” including obstetrics and orthopedics.

“Digital Transformation is at the forefront of our policy agenda in Indonesia and we see this as a key step to achieving our ambitions,” said Kunta Wibawa Dasa Nugraha, secretary general of Indonesia’s Ministry of Health, in a press release. Indonesia’s health care system faces barriers in serving the entire country due to how the population is spread out across remote locations and multiple islands.

USTDA’s support of this project will advance the goals of Indonesia MoH’s “Blueprint of Digital Health Transformation Strategy 2024.” It will also further “one of the key pillars of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, which aims to strengthen global health security through investments in patient-centered health services,” says the press release. The collaborative efforts will allow increased access to health care for Indonesians in rural, remote areas.

Looking Forward

The health care access expansion in Indonesia due to USTDA support will propel the country’s health care into the digital age while strengthening Indonesia’s health care system overall. It will also increase quality health care access for the most disadvantaged people in remote areas of the country.

– Sean McMullen
Photo: Flickr

According to a new study by GE Healthcare, incidences of fatal breast cancer have risen in developing countries.

Bengt Jönsson, Professor in Health Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics, and co-author of the report has said, “Breast cancer is on the rise across developing nations, mainly due to the increase in life expectancy and lifestyle changes such as women having fewer children, as well as hormonal intervention such as post-menopausal hormonal therapy. In these regions mortality rates are compounded by the later stage at which the disease is diagnosed, as well as limited access to treatment, presenting a ‘ticking time bomb’ which health systems and policymakers in these countries need to work hard to defuse.”

While significant headway is being made in the prevention of communicable diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, many developing countries do not have the resources to provide treatment for cancer.

Ignorance and the stigma of breast cancer is also a contributing factor. “There is little information for the people who need to be helped,” said Dr. Fred Okuku, of the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala, “Only a few know how to read and write. Many don’t have TV or radio. There is no word for cancer in most Ugandan languages. A woman finds a lump in her breast, and cancer doesn’t cross her mind. It’s not in her vocabulary.”

In the United States, about 20 percent of breast cancer patients die from it, compared with 40 to 60 percent in developing countries. While prevention and self screening measures are well known in the United States, misinformation in the developing world has led to an increased risk. A recent survey in Mexico City highlights this, indicating that many women feel uncomfortable or worried about having a mammogram.

Claire Goodliffe, Global Oncology Director for GE Healthcare, has said, “It is of great concern that women in newly industrialized countries are reluctant to get checked out until it is too late. This report finds a direct link between survival rates in countries and the stage at which breast cancer is diagnosed. It provides further evidence of the need for early detection and treatment, which we welcome given current controversies about the relative harms, benefits, and cost effectiveness of breast cancer screening.”

David Smith

Sources: New York Times