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.
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