SBY Tells Indonesians To Stop Seeking Medical Treatment Abroad
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told wealthy Indonesians stop heading overseas for medical treatment in a criticism of medical tourism delivered at the Health Ministry on Wednesday.
“Honestly, I’m not happy if our people go abroad for medical treatment because it only benefits neighboring countries,” Yudhoyono said.
Indonesia’s ministers need to set an example for the rest of the nation and only seek treatment at domestic health facilities, he said. It is a policy Yudhoyono says he has followed for years.
But he may be in the minority among Indonesians with the means to seek treatment at hospitals and health centers overseas. According to the Health Ministry, some 600,000 Indonesians leave the country for medical treatment every year. They spend an estimated $1.2 billion on treatment in nations with modern, and often better-equipped, health facilities.
Among those who sought medical care overseas was Yudhoyono’s own wife, Ani Yudhoyono. The first lady traveled to the United States in June to undergo treatment for a nerve problem in her neck at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“He feels concerned by the many Indonesians who seek medical treatment overseas, but the First Lady herself sought medical attention abroad,” said the Golkar Party’s Poempida Hidayatullan, a member of the House Commission IX that deals with health affairs.
Indonesia needs to change the perception of the nation’s doctors, who have the necessary skills and knowledge to treat citizens here, Poempida said.
“For me, the perception that domestic health care is not that good is clearly because of an inappropriate and unintegrated policies and strategies in the health sector,” he said.
The lawmaker urged the president to push for health care reform and a larger budget in an effort to boost the system’s efficiency.
“This should encourage the development of the national health sector and this should have the president’s special attention,” Poempida said.
Yudhoyono told a crowd of reporters and Health Ministry officials on Wednesday that he was committed to continuing the development of the nation’s health system. He also asked those thinking of heading overseas to consider scheduling an appointment at a domestic hospital instead.
“Our quality [hospital] and doctors are something to be proud of,”
Yudhoyono said. “Many of our doctors are smart and recommended by other
But for those who still plan to leave Indonesia for treatment, there is little the president can do to stop them, he said.
“I could not forbid them, as I could not issue presidential decree banning our people from seeking medical help abroad,” Yudhoyono said.