Role of Government in Healthy Development of West Papua

Healthy Development

West Papua is the second biggest province on the eastern side and the unique part of Indonesia. Located furthest from the capital city, West Papua is often seen as ‘the last frontier’. With an area of 99.617,64 square kilometers, this province is the lowest population compared with the other province in Indonesia (8,96 person/km²).

West Papua Province has twelve regencies and one city that was subdivided into 154 districts. The most priority in this province is about the availability and accessibility of health care services. The Indonesian government manages a healthy development in West Papua by providing 14 hospitals and 154 public health centers.

Even so, West Papuan still needs to access primary health centers with professional doctors. It can be challenging since the geographical terrain in West Papuan are poor, and the local transportation can’t be reliable.

This inequity of health services in West Papua is also the biggest challenge for the Indonesian government to solve the problem through the Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas). This project’s goal is a healthy development by increasing the decent public health center and quality of health services for West Papuans.

Healthy Development through Telemedicine Program for West Papua

Healthy Development

The Ministry of Health developed the program to do a long-distance medical service based on an online system. The program has been held at a public health center in West Papua Province since 2012. However, in 2017, there are several changes and some development for the program. The Ministry of Health launched the telemedicine under the name Telemedisin Indonesia (TEMENIN).

TEMENIN is an application based on a web browser platform that can be accessed for free for all regions in Indonesia, including West Papua. Before we talk further about telemedicine, what is telemedicine?

Telemedicine is defined by the WHO as “The delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities” (A health telematics policy in support of WHO’s Health-For-All strategy for global health development: report of the WHO group consultation on health telematics, WHO)

In short, telemedicine is a long-distance medical service based on the online system. It uses telecommunication technology and internet connectivity to get the information from the reference hospital.

How does Telemedicine Work for the Patient?

The essential thing to make sure that telemedicine runs optimally is internet connectivity. The Indonesian government is working with the Eastern Palapa Ring project to connect some areas in the Eastern of Indonesia to have internet connectivity, and this program could be successful.

When the patient comes to the public health center/Puskesmas, the nurse will use a computer with an internet network to connect the health center to the reference hospital depending on the patient’s illness.

Through the teleconference, the doctor will get the information about the patient’s condition, and they will give instruction or medical prescription for the patient. After that, the paramedics at the local health center will run the instruction under the monitoring of professional doctors in the reference hospital.

The reference hospital in West Papua Province is the Sorong Hospital. This hospital also supports the Raja Ampat District Hospital in Waigeo Island, Oransbari Public Health Center, and Sausapor Public Health Center.

Telemedicine: Healthy Development from the Government

Healthy Development

The Indonesian government is not only the one that supports healthy development by using telemedicine to solve the problem of inequity of decent public health care in West Papua. The Australian government is also committed to assisting by developing telemedicine since they have telemedicine experience in provincial areas in their country.

The Advantages of Telemedicine as Healthy Development in West Papua

There are some benefits for West Papuans with having telemedicine in their local public health center. For example, in provincial areas such as in the middle of highland where the journey to the big hospital in the city is far away, and there are not enough doctors, especially specialists. This is where telemedicine programs can solve the problem. All that paramedics need is some improvement besides creating a professional network between doctors from the other cities.

Improving the skill of paramedics and nurses in the rural area, they can continue their medical education from the doctor using this program.

The Disadvantages of Telemedicine

Since telemedicine only uses the internet, the internet could be the main problem. The local government should be concerned about the costs of setting up the internet in the area and also sustaining the telemedicine network.

The Indonesian government is now developing along 35.000 kilometers to provide the eastern side of Indonesia with 4G internet access. This is an important information technology development to support telemedicine in West Papua.