Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – Around 6,000 newborn babies with congenital heart defects die every year in Indonesia that could have been avoided if the country has enough medical specialists and advanced treatment, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Monday.
"Every year we have around 12,000 newborn babies who must undergo heart surgeries or they die because of congenital heart defects," Budi said in an exclusive interview with news broadcaster BTV at his residence in Jakarta.
"But our capacity can handle only 6,000 newborn patients, meaning that the remaining 6,000 have to die. Why? Because we don't have enough medical specialists capable of conducting heart surgery on the newborn."
Congenital heart defects are medical conditions present at birth that prevent the heart from functioning normally.
The shortage of medical specialists originates from the limited number of advanced programs in medical schools across the country.
"It's both very difficult and expensive to become a medical specialist in Indonesia because, among 92 medical schools countrywide, only 20 have specialist programs," Budi told BTV news anchor Fristian Griec.
The minister said in Indonesia, medical schools in universities are the only place where doctors can acquire the title of medical specialist.
"In other countries, medical specialist training takes place not only in universities but also in hospitals," Budi said.