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Universal healthcare comes to Indonesia

The scheme is welcomed, but some want to know more about delivery
The scheme is welcomed, but some want to know more about delivery

In Indonesia, the government has introduced a new universal healthcare scheme called Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN). Under the scheme, health insurance will be extended to the entire population by 2019.

Around 35% of Indonesia's 240 million people are classified as poor and nearly USD 1.6 billion has been allocated to cover premiums for the poor, while a further 30% of people are covered by some form of regional or national health programme which automatically entitles them to care.

Speaking to the news agency IRIN, one surgeon working at a hospital in the capital, Jakarta, hailed the new scheme as a “great programme” since “people will no longer be denied treatment because they don’t have money”.

Healthcare costs

However, the World Bank has warned that in order to cover all those in poverty or near poverty, the national insurance scheme will eventually require the country to double its spending on health. Indonesian health workers are naturally concerned that the new scheme might have an impact on the quality of provision.

So far, reports suggest some hospitals have received scant information about the details of the new scheme. There are also concerns about whether the current healthcare system will be able to meet demand. More than 1,700 state and private hospitals are participating in JKN, with a further 9,000 state-funded community clinics serving as the first point of primary care. However, new hospitals will be needed and the government plans to build 150 by 2019. The Health Ministry also estimates that the country will need an additional 12,000 doctors.

Other strains on the system

As in many other developing nations, additional strains are also being placed on Indonesia’s healthcare system by a rise in obesity and non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Deaths from non-communicable diseases have risen sharply (by 42% between 1995 and 2007) and in 2013, the prevalence of diabetes had risen to 2.1% compared with 1.1% six years ago. The number of Indonesians with diabetes is forecast to grow significantly, by around 6% each year.

In the past, Indonesia has introduced measures which allow the poor to access low cost food staples. Now, with 12% of its population overweight, Indonesia will need to focus on promoting the health benefits of the country’s traditional non-processed staples.

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