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Jakarta Post

House finalizes draft of mental health law

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, July 3, 2014   /  10:06 am

The House of Representatives Commission IX on health and demographic affairs, along with the Health Ministry, has agreed to bring the mental health law draft to a plenary session for final legislation.

A lawmaker from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Wirianingsih, said that the law, which is sponsored by the House, would help the central government and local administrations to prioritize programs and funding related to mental illness.

'€œThe central government and local administrations should provide and distribute more medical workers in the regions. It is also important to prohibit people from practicing pasung [traditional practice of shackling or restraining] on patients,'€ she said on Monday, as quoted by Vivanews portal.

Hang Ali Saputra Ayah Pahan from the National Mandate Party (PAN) said that better infrastructure in the form of more hospitals and doctors capable of treating patients with mental health problems would help reduce cases of mental illness.

'€œFrom 700 hospitals in Indonesia, only 97 public hospitals have the capacity to treat the mentally ill while only 900 from a total of 1,235 community health centers [Puskesmas] provide such treatment,'€ he said.

All factions in the commission agreed to move forward with passing the bill.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said she was pleased to know that the draft law, which has been in legislation for years, had been finalized.

'€œThe government appreciates the hard work of lawmakers,'€ she said.

She said she hoped that the law would give a better quality of life to members of the community.

Data from the 2007 Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) conducted by the Health Ministry showed that more than 1 million people in Indonesia were at high risk of developing severe mental illness, but that only around 3.5 percent, or around 35,000 individuals, had received treatment in mental hospitals.

Ministry data also showed that some provinces lack any sort of facility for treating patients with mental illness. Seven provinces, including Banten, Gorontalo and East Nusa Tenggara, still have no mental health treatment facilities.

In Indonesia, people with mental illnesses often fall victim to inhumane treatment. They are caged in small cells behind houses, chained to beds, stoned by neighborhood children, hidden by families and, in some cases, their feet are clamped between stocks to prevent them from moving freely.

If they do not receive treatment at asylums, they may be taken to traditional healers who reportedly sometimes abuse patients and place them in appalling and isolated conditions.

Even when patients do receive hospital treatment, medical personnel are reportedly often ill-equipped to provide adequate care, or to treat patients with dignity and respect.

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