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More organizations come forward to support health bill

Jakarta Globe - May 10, 2023

Agnes Valentina Christa, Jakarta – The number of medical workers' organizations supportive of the health bill keeps increasing despite a recent major rally opposing the bill.

According to Deby Vinski, the vice chair of the All Indonesian Doctors' Association, or PDSI, the pro-health bill coalition now comprises 23 organizations from previously 17 before the rally took place on Monday.

"The number of coalition members increased to 23 after the protest because the arguments [presented during the rally] were completely groundless," Deby told Jakarta Globe's sister publication Beritasatu in a recent interview.

According to Deby, the rally organized by the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) carried partisan interests rather than the interests of the Indonesian people.

She alleged that, according to what several colleagues had told her, the rally was held because if enacted the bill could eliminate some sources of "money payment" to the establishment.

But Deby underlined that the coalition has no issue with the opposing view of the bill and encourages discussions with all stakeholders.

"Health Minister Budi Sadikin is a person who welcomes discussions. But if we can't hold our ground during the discussion, we must accept that. We live in a free country – no one should push ideas to others," she said.

The IDI and several other medical professional organizations held a rally to protest some contentious articles in the bill, which limits the number of associations to one in any medical discipline.

The bill also seeks to reduce the power of a professional association in issuing medical licenses.

It introduces criminal offenses for medical negligence that causes a patient to suffer a serious injury with a prison sentence of up to three years.

Protesters also accused the bill of giving too much power to the health minister in determining the standard for medical education and competence, which aims to boost the number of medical specialists in the country.

Merry Patrilinilla Chresna, who represents an association of pharmacists, criticized Monday's rally after some protesters attempted to force their way to the Health Ministry building.

"It was initially agreed as a peaceful rally but then the incident occurred. That's not a good thing to see because the rally was meant to be peaceful," Merry said.

On Tuesday, a Health Ministry spokesman claimed that the government had already included IDI and other professional organizations' aspirations in the inventory of issues that will be discussed with the House of Representatives.

"President [Joko Widodo] has tasked the health minister to study [the bill] and ask for inputs from all stakeholders, professionals, and the public [in making this] inventory of issues," Mohammad Syahril said.

He said the series of public hearings already took place on March 13-31, involving 115 public participation activities, 1,200 stakeholders, and 72,000 participants.

The talks amassed 3,020 points for discussion (DIM) from a total of 478 articles on the health bill, he said.

They mostly cover hospital services, health workers, abortion, the social security system, and drug and pharmaceutical self-sufficiency.

"In the making of a new law or policy, there are of course matters that involve other professions, people, or associations," Syahril said.

"Of course, these protests do not mean we have to clash with one another, but to convey what is done and what can be worked on together. We are open to suggestions," he said.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/more-organizations-come-forward-to-support-health-bil