The Health Ministry and the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry are working together to promote medical tourism in Indonesia, and they believe that certain traditional Indonesian treatments may boost interest in the industry.
Speaking in Jakarta yesterday, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto, who was appointed to his post last month, said the two ministries will prioritize the development of traditional-based medical tourism for their high economic potential.
"We have a great jamu (traditional herbal medicine drink) industry but we don't promote it. For example, we have jamu brands like Tongkat Ali, Purwaceng, Mak Erot; if we package them well, tourists will come," Terawan said, as quoted by Detik.
For those unfamiliar with Mak Erot, legend has it that she was an old lady who developed a penis enlargement treatment involving massages and jamu. Mak Erot passed away in 2008, but her descendants, who claim to have inherited her methods, have opened penis enlargement clinics in Indonesia.
Before you get excited, though, there has been no scientific proof that the methods used by Mak Erot and her descendants work as advertised.
Nevertheless, her legend lives on and there are numerous packaged jamu products and massage oils (many of which you can buy online) that use the Mak Erot name. Similarly, Tongkat Ali and Purwaceng jamu brands are also known to be consumed specifically for sexual performance enhancement.
Moving on from matters of the crotch, Terawan also said that the ministries are looking to promote other traditional Indonesian health treatments.
"We can sell kerokan. Don't underestimate, if we have 100 rooms for 20 minutes of kerokan, how much can we earn? When they're done, they can drink jamu," he said.
Kerokan is a treatment in which a blunt object (usually a coin or ladle) is scratched repeatedly across one's back. It is believed by locals to be a cure for masuk angin (a condition that literally translates to "wind entering" but resembles the common cold).
Specific details about the ministries' medical tourism program have yet to be announced. We'll see if the program will be able to attract tourists from all around the world or if it will end up being one huge anticlimax.