The Health Ministry is proposing financial incentives and civil servant posts to doctors who are willing to settle in remote areas.
Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said the proposals were included in a draft bill on medical practitioners that is set to be discussed at the House of Representatives.
“The bill aims to promote a fair distribution of doctors working in urban, rural and remote areas,” Endang told The Jakarta Post.
She said the bill was crucial to ensure a fair share of medical practitioners, particularly doctors, were serving in community health centers in remote and very remote places in the country.
The draft bill stated that doctors and medical practitioners working in those areas would receive extra financial incentives from the government and local authorities.
“The government would also ease requirements for those doctors based in remote and very remote areas who want to apply to be civil servants,” she said.
The bill is scheduled for deliberation this year.
A study by the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) found that 66 percent of doctors were currently based in Java, with 23.93 percent working in Jakarta.
The study, released in March, revealed that less than 5 percent of doctors worked outside Java, leaving many community health centers (Puskesmas) with nurses only.
The ministry sent 1,080 physicians and dentists to work in community health centers in remote areas and very remote areas last week in a mandatory program for newly graduated doctors.
With the program, locally known as PTT, a new doctor would serve in those areas for at least one year.
The existing salary of doctors in the program working in remote areas where basic infrastructure is limited is around Rp 3 million (US$345) per month. Those who are located in a very remote area, where supporting regional infrastructure is scarce, would receive Rp 5.3 million.
Under PTT requirements, the new doctors were assigned to work in public health centers in remote areas for six months.
The PTT program was once revoked in 2004, prompting many medical school graduates to opt for hospital or clinic jobs in big cities or to start their own clinics.
The Indonesian Internists Association (PAPDI) supported the PTT program to fill the shortfall of doctors in some regions if the country wanted to achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The MDGs, a United Nations initiative, sets targets focusing on reducing extreme poverty, reducing infant and maternal mortality rates, fighting communicable diseases and preserving the environment.