The Jakarta Post
Two regencies in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), including Labuan Bajo, capital of West Manggarai regency, are still short of general hospitals.
The absence of a general hospital in Labuan Bajo is ironic, considering that it is a world-famous tourist destination because of its rare and iconic komodo dragon.
The regency also hosted the international 2013 Sail Komodo event, the peak of which was held on Pede Beach, Labuan Bajo city.
'It's an irony that the government buildings in Labuan Bajo, such as the regent's office, regency council office and other grand buildings cost billions of rupiah and use funds from the regency budget, but the vital general hospital remains in limbo,' West Manggarai Health Advisory Board head Pastor Marselinus Agot said.
Marselinus said there was an urgent need of a general hospital in West Manggarai because patients had been neglected.
'The West Manggarai regency administration must immediately build the general hospital. Prior to the 2013 Sail Komodo event the central government promised to build a hospital, but there are still no signs of its presence,' Marselinus told The Jakarta Post recently.
Patients in West Manggarai, added Marselinus, were often referred to the Ruteng General Hospital in Manggarai regency, or hospitals in Denpasar, Bali, when they needed medical treatment.
He added the West Manggarai Health Advisory Board recently visited 15 community health centers (Puskesmas) in West Manggarai and found they were ill-equipped with outdated equipment.
'We urge the West Manggarai regency administration to improve access to villages,' he said.
Meanwhile, West Manggarai researcher Agustinus Bandur said the regency had already gained autonomy for the past 11 years, but the government has yet to prioritize the development of a general hospital.
He added that based on data at the West Manggarai Central Statistics Agency (BPS) the population of the regency has risen, but the vast area was only served by 14 doctors, six dentists, 75 midwives, 82 medical assistants and 116 traditional midwives found in hamlets and villages.
'I hope the regency administration will immediately build a general hospital for the sake of serving the community in West Manggarai,' Agustinus told the Post.
However, West Manggarai is not the only regency that does not have a general hospital.
East Manggarai regency has allocated a plot of land for the hospital, but has yet to start construction.
East Manggarai Health Office head Philipus Mantur revealed that the planned construction of the East Manggarai general hospital could not yet be carried out this year because of a failure in the tender and blueprint process and the lack of a contractor interested in the project.
According to Philipus, the regency administration has provided a five-hectare plot for the purpose, but it failed to be realized this year.
Besides the hospital, Philipus said East Manggarai was in dire need of doctors.
'To anticipate the scarcity we reinforced the medical assistants and midwives posted in Puskesmas in East Manggarai. We hope the media would also help by publicizing the deficiency,' he added.
Separately, the Nagekeo regency, which is the same age as the East Manggarai regency, is equipped with a general hospital but it has yet to be opened to serve patients.
Nagekeo Regent Elias Djo told the Post recently that the hospital had already been built and the hospital's emergency unit and several other units would start operating soon.
'The hospital building is completed and several units are ready to operate and serve the community in Nagekeo,' he said.