Indonesia is one of the most unique and fascinating countries in the world. It is an area of stunning natural beauty, made up of around 17,500 volcanic islands and home to one of the most diverse populations on Earth.
It is also one of the world’s most important economies, increasingly being recognized as an up-and-coming business powerhouse. By 2030 it is expected that Indonesia’s economy will surpass even the UK and Germany’s. Yet, Indonesia’s healthcare system continues to be a challenge.
According to the World Health Organization, despite considerable global progress in reducing child mortality, recent estimates indicate that in 2008 about 8.8 million children died. Indonesia has continued to face challenges in providing care to its population, and the rise of non-communicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer puts further pressure on an already strained system.
Compared to similar up-and-coming nations like Brazil, which spends 9.3% of GDP on healthcare, and Vietnam, which spends 6.6%, Indonesia today only spends around 3%.
Today, Universitas Indonesia (UI) and GE Healthcare announced a telemedicine program that will connect the country’s leading clinicians to some of its most deprived patients, helping the country’s healthcare system live up to Indonesia’s motto: “unity in diversity.”
By using GE’s proven track record in developing nations, coupled with the healthcare expertise of Universitas Indonesia’s Medical Faculty, the program should reach several thousand patients in the next three years, drastically cutting down mother and child deaths.
“Our healthymagination strategy focuses on how we can provide greater access to better quality healthcare at a lower cost,” said Teri Bresenham, President & CEO of GE Healthcare’s Sustainable Healthcare Solutions business, in Jakarta today. “Through this collaboration with UI, we’ll be able to increase access to critical life-saving technology to clinics outside of Jakarta, ensuring that mothers have the right level of access to care to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery.”
With telemedicine, patients in even the most remote parts of Indonesia can have on-demand access to a trusted healthcare professional. The boundaries between top healthcare providers and the least-served patients are being dissolved, resulting in better healthcare for all.
“Today, many areas outside of Jakarta lack access to much needed healthcare technologies, particularly in primary care or Puskesmas clinics,” added Dr Ratna Sitompul SpM(K), Dean of the Medical Faculty at UI. “Utilizing contemporary technology, we’re finding ways to fill these gaps by employing our staff to serve these rural areas virtually through modern solutions like Telemedicine. Programs like this not only aim to improve maternal and infant mortality outside of Jakarta, but also bring about more opportunities to train healthcare staff in these remote areas on the use of important, life-saving technology.”
The program will address a distinct lack of tools at clinicians’ disposal to diagnose and treat pregnant women and infants. Through telemedicine, primary healthcare providers will be able to connect and collaborate with OB/GYNs at UI to ensure that mothers in communities outside of Jakarta have access to the right level of care they need throughout their pregnancies.
But telemedicine is only part of the full picture. By equipping the program’s clinics with VScan Access*, a rugged portable ultrasound system, healthcare workers will be able to provide ultrasound examinations in even the most remote of settings.
“Studies have shown ultrasound can help enable task-shifting to midwives for basic obstetric scanning, mobilize mothers to seek more ANC [antenatal care] visits and improve pregnancy management through early detection and referral of pregnancy complications,” added Bresenham.
*The new ultrasound device is Pending Registration with the Ministry of Health in Indonesia and will not be available for commercial sale until later this year.