The Jakarta Globe, Fidelis E. Satriastanti & Sally Piri, 19 December 2008
Indonesia has seen its maternal mortality rate drop by more than 25 percent in the past five years while cases of malnutrition also went down from 7.2 percent in 2004 to 5.4 percent three years later, Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said on Friday.
Fadilah credited the improvement to better health services, as individuals, the community, the private sector and regional administrations increasingly cooperated to support the national health program.
“The awareness, the will and the ability to live a healthy life must be possessed by all citizens,” Siti said at a ceremony marking National Health Day.
She said that some of the “quite meaningful achievements in health service,” included the improving maternal mortality rate, or the number of women dying in childbirth, a lower malnourishment percentage and a higher life expectancy.
The maternal mortality rate, she said, has fallen from 307 per 100,000 live births in 2002 to 228 in 2007.
The malnourishment figure for the country had decreased from 7.2 percent in 2004 to 5.4 percent last year.
She also said that according to the State-run Central Bureau of Statistics, life expectancy rate in the country during the period of 2005 to 2010 will be 69.8 years, and further rise to 71.5 years y 2015.
Ruslidjah, a retired midwife with 35 years of experience, said that significant changes have been made in maternity health care over the past four decades.
“Now, we have much more educated midwives rather than in the 1960s,” she said.
Ruslidjah, said that there were only 10,000 midwives in 1975, but now, numbers had increased to 100,000 midwives. “Midwives, nowadays, are graduating from diploma programs,” she said. “It means they have better analytical capabilities regarding pregnancies.”
She said higher maternal mortality rates in the past were caused by parochial practices.
“There were lots of factors linked to that issue, for instance, poverty and culture,” she said. “Women, at that time, did not have the power to make their own decisions.”
She said that maternity hospitals had become very popular with mothers. “In my era, we could handle just 50 births a day, but now, public hospitals do not handle that many cases anymore.”
Speaking at the same ceremony, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government would continue to prioritize health program for Indonesians, by intensifying basic health facilities and expanding health insurance for the poor.
Better health conditions, he said, would lead to an increase in the Human Development Index and a better life expectancy rate.
“We will make medicines more available and affordable by providing generic medicines,” said Yudhoyono, who was accompanied first lady Ani Bambang Yudhoyono.
He said that for the last three years, the government has been concentrating on building hospitals and provide better health care to the isolated areas of the country.
Yudhoyono said that the government will also continue to improve the quality of medical workers in the country, to provide citizens better health services.
“Let us continue to expand public health insurance and make it more effective,” he said.