Health facilities at the district level in Indonesia

Aust New Zealand Health Policy. 2009 May 18;6:13. doi: 10.1186/1743-8462-6-13.


Background: At Independence the Government of Indonesia inherited a weak and unevenly distributed health system to which much of the population had only limited access. In response, the government decided to increase the number of facilities and to locate them closer to the people. To staff these health facilities the government introduced obligatory government service for all new graduates in medicine, nursing and midwifery. Most of these staff also established private practices in the areas in which they were located. The health information system contains little information on the health care facilities established for private practice by these staff. This article reports on the results of enumerating all health facilities in 15 districts in Java.

Methods: We enumerated all healthcare facilities, public and private, by type in each of 15 districts in Java.

Results: The enumeration showed a much higher number of healthcare facilities in each district than is shown in most reports and in the health information system which concentrates on public, multi-provider facilities. Across the 15 districts: 86% of facilities were solo-provider facilities for outpatient services; 13% were multi-provider facilities for outpatient services; and 1% were multi-provider facilities offering both outpatient and inpatient services.

Conclusion: The relatively good distribution of health facilities in Indonesia was achieved through establishing public health centers at the sub-district level and staffing them through a system of compulsory service for doctors, nurses and midwives. Subsequently, these public sector staff also established solo-provider facilities for their own private practice; these solo-provider facilities, of which those for nurses are almost half, comprise the largest category of outpatient care facilities, most are not included in official statistics. Now that Indonesia no longer has mandatory service for newly graduated doctors, nurses and midwives, it will have difficulty maintaining the distribution of facilities and providers established through the 1980s. The current challenge is to envision a new health system that responds to the changing disease patterns as well as the changes in distribution of health facilities.