Low-key health minister passes away after cancer battle
Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih passed away on Wednesday at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital (RSCM) Kencana after battling lung cancer for two years. She was 57-years-old.
RSCM director Akmal Taher said that Endang was pronounced dead at 11:41 a.m. in her room on the seventh floor of the hospital.
“We’d like to bring you the sad news that today at 11:41 a.m., Ibu Endang passed away in her room in the RSCM intensive care unit. She died from late-stage cancer. She was in critical condition as of yesterday, and we gave her intensive treatment,” Akmal said.
Doctors had continued to closely monitor her condition after Endang was admitted to hospital in mid-March. Akmal said her condition had continued to deteriorate as her cancer cells had metastasized.
Endang is survived by her husband, Makentur Reanny Mamahit, who is also the director of the Tangerang Regional Hospital (RSUD), and by her three children.
Remembered by friends and colleages as a humble and low-key person, Endang had made a number of achievements during her three-year stint at the ministry.
Endang managed to implement a number of programs during her 2009-2012 stint, including the enforcement of the Maternity Insurance Program (Jampersal), under which pregnant mothers from poor families could get free maternity care at local community health centers.
She also enforced exclusive breast feeding, banning advertising and medical personnel from giving formula milk, and required that office buildings make room for nursing facilities.
In international forums, she campaigned at the World Health Organization for a resolution to require members of the organization to share the bird-flu virus, a stance that Indonesia had promoted since 2007.
Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono said Endang’s death was a loss to the country. “She devoted herself entirely to the country. Her death brings grief to all of us,” he told journalists.
Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar remembered her as hard-working.
“We grieve the death of the former health minister because she was sincere and a hard worker. She lived modestly and devoted herself entirely to the country. She was very resolute in doing her job. She became a good model for us. May her soul rest in peace,” Muhaimin said.
National Development Planning Minister Armida Alisjahbana said she had lost a colleague and a friend. “I just want to say goodbye. I’ll pray for her. May Allah give her the highest place in heaven,” she said.
Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister, Linda Agum Gumelar, who is a cancer survivor, said she [Endang] had been a good partner in tackling problems in the health sector that affected both women and children in the country.
“I’ve been working with her for the past 2.5 years. We crossed paths a lot because she was in charge of delivering proper health services for women and children,” Linda said.
Linda added that she had also been personally close with the late minister because of their cancer problems.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono paid tribute to Endang late on Tuesday at her private residence in Duren Sawit, East Jakarta.
Deputy Health Minister Ali Ghufron Mukti is now the interim health minister.