Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has acknowledged that hospitals could be overwhelmed with patients seeking treatment following the launch of the Jakarta Health Card (KJS) program on Nov. 10.
“We understand that [the facilities at] hospitals and community health centers are still insufficient. But if I delayed the KJS for a year, residents would not get the medical treatment they needed,” he told reporters at City Hall on Tuesday.
Jokowi said that since the launch of the KJS, the number of patients at third-class wards of the referral hospitals had increased by 70 percent.
Arguing that the spike was proof of the success of the program, Jokowi said he had instructed the health agency to increase the number of hospital facilities including third-class wards, intensive care units (ICUs) and neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).
“We already have the money [for the expansion] but there is some paperwork we have to get through and it all takes time.”
Concerns about the availability of the free third-class health services in the city surfaced following the death of four-day-old Dera Nur Anggraini at the weekend after she was unable to receive neonatal intensive care.
Dera and her twin Dara Nur Anggraini were delivered a month prematurely at Zahirah Hospital in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, last week. Dera, who was born weighing 1 kilogram, had respiratory problems and needed surgery, which prompted her family to seek a hospital with NICU facilities.
The family checked out 10 hospitals across the capital but none were able to admit the baby because their NICU facilities were fully occupied.
Jakarta Health Agency head Dien Emawati said on Tuesday that no hospitals had rejected Dera.
“None of the hospitals that were visited or contacted by Dera’s family or the Zahirah Hospital had available NICU facilities, some of them don’t even have the facility at all,” Dien told a press conference at her office in Central Jakarta after a meeting with representatives of eight hospitals that were reported to have refused to admit Dera.
The twins’ father, Eliyas Setia Nugroho, 20, of Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, told The Jakarta Post on Monday that he and his father, Herman, went to, among others, Fatmawati Hospital in South Jakarta and Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM) in Central Jakarta to find an available NICU but to no avail. Dera died at Zahirah Hospital on Saturday.
Dien insisted that none of the hospitals had asked for cash deposits from the parents.
According to RSCM director Akmal Taher, his hospital’s 10 NICUs were at full capacity with three babies on the waiting list when Dera’s family visited the hospital.
“We didn’t want to risk Dera’s life by accepting and treating her at an emergency room. Transporting Dera to another hospital already carried several risks and the risks were even higher if the hospital didn’t have available NICUs,” he said.
Akmal, who is also the Health Ministry’s director general for health development, admitted that the city lacked NICU facilities.
“There are only 143 NICUs in both state and private hospitals across the capital. In the future, we will expand the NICU capacity to help babies who are born with abnormal conditions,” he said.
Dien pointed out that expanding the capacity of NICUs in Jakarta hospitals was included in the city’s health program this year.
“We have allocated Rp 1.2 trillion [US$124 million] for the city health program, which includes expanding [NICUs],” she said, adding that at least one in 100 births was abnormal and needed NICU treatment.
“We will expand both the number of units and specialists,” she said, adding that the agency aimed to build an integrated healthcare system to assist patients seeking appropriate health services.