Government Health Program members in outer islands lack services

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Access to referral hospitals has been a major problem for citizens in the outer islands for decades. (Photo: RAYI GIGIH/IO)

IO – Even though the planned increase in Health Social Security Administrator (Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Sosial – “BPJS”) fees was cancelled in March 2020, the Government ended up raising it anyway in July. Despite the heavier burden they must pay, members of Health BPJS continue to complain that they do not obtain sufficient health services nor can they access decent health facilities – particularly citizens of the outer islands. They are obstructed by the high cost of travel that they need in order to physically reach referral Health BPJS hospitals.

Arpa Aindi is one of these members with this trouble. When his wife required hospitalization for birth complications, the doctor stated that she had to be operated on in order to save her life and that of the baby. However, Lapangan Lingga Hospital, Riau Islands, Arpa’s local hospital, lacked sufficient facilities to perform such delicate surgery. Therefore, the doctor referred her to the bigger hospital in Tanjungpinang.

The doctor’s statement pushed Arpa into a panic, as no maritime transportation is available to take referred patients for the 7-hour trip from Lingga to Tanjungpinang. Such a distance could have been traversed using the National Board of Disaster Management (Badan Nasional Penang¬gulangan Bencana – “BNPB”) emergency ship stationed at the local port, but it was unavailable that day. In the evening, Arpa finally convinced friends in the local Fishery Office to help him transport his wife to Tanjungpinang. He and his wife went to Tenam Lingga River Harbor, Riau Islands, at 03.00 a.m. WIB, but could only leave at 07.00 a.m. WIB.

Arpa’s efforts bore fruit: At 12.00 WIB his wife gave birth to their child at the Tanjungpinang Naval Hospital. Arpa himself admits that he was lucky and could save his wife and baby because he happened to know a lot of local officials who could and were willing to help him out. Therefore, he is concerned about the fate of ordinary citizens who are not as well connected as he is. Health BPJS must think of a way for its services to be able to reach citizens of the outer islands. Access to referral hospitals has been a major concern for citizens in the outer islands for decades. For his part, Arpa hopes that transport ships and water ambulances will be available to transport patients from hospitals at all times. He further hopes that the Government provides travel aid for poor citizens in need of emergency referral treatments.

BPJS claims that they are ready to help with this problem, but they have not given permission because of issues ith regional regulations. (dan)