Indonesias economic burden to finance health is predicted to increase following a higher number of people with degenerative diseases such as stroke, ischemic heart disease or coronary artery disease, and diabetes.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) report, stroke, ischemic heart disease, and diabetes are the top killers in Indonesia, and therefore, preventive efforts must be done.
Indonesia is currently experiencing the degenerative and man-made diseases stage of epidemiological change which is identified by its leading causes of death.
WHO has reported that stroke is responsible for 21.2 percent of all death, or the number one killer in Indonesia, and is responsible for 328,500 deaths per year.
Hence, the government has invested in public education initiatives and increased stroke units in an attempt to prevent stroke-related deaths in response.
The second leading cause of deaths in Indonesia is ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, taking 138,400 lives every year, or represents 8.9 percent of all deaths.
Poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, and high blood pressure are some of the underlying factors with this condition.
Given that the typical Indonesian diet is higher in cholesterol than other Asian countries, it could explain this particular disease, and as the economy continues to develop, the westernized diet will become more prevalent and potentially lead to increases in coronary artery disease-related deaths.
And, the third most common cause of death in Indonesia is diabetes, causing 100,400 deaths annually, or is responsible for 6.5 percent of all deaths.
Center for Healthcare Policy and Reform Studies (Chapters) Chairman Luthfi Mardiansyah said in a written statement on Wednesday that the burden of Indonesias economy to overcome the three diseases reached US$7 billion or about Rp93 trillion.
"The economic burden is also reflected in the National Healthcare Security (BPJS Kesehatan) claims on diseases, in which chronic non-communicable disease contributes 29.7 percent or about Rp16.9 trillion," Mardiansyah remarked.
Of that amount, he said that as much as 13 percent is for heart disease, 5 percent for cancer, and 33 percent for diabetes and its implications.
It can be seen here that health costs are going to get higher, and will pose a great challenge for the government and the whole community in the future.
Moreover, a shift in peoples lifestyle, especially in urban areas, will encourage an increase in people with chronic diseases.
Mardiansyah pointed out that the lifestyle of young people in urban areas have shown that they are more prone to suffer from chronic diseases.
"Therefore, innovative preventive programs need to be structured to provide early detection and diagnosis, or else, high health costs will burden the economy, especially the budget from the BPJS Kesehatan," he noted.
For cancer, Mardiansyah opined that the Cancer Early Diagnosis & Treatment should be made to introduce the public with a "screening cancer" program at an affordable price.
However, Health Minister Nila Moeloek has emphasized that inter-ministerial coordination in dealing with health problems is now getting better, and should be further enhanced through the program of Healthy Living Community Movement (Germas), initiated by President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi.
Germas aims to change peoples behavior and encourage them to adopt a healthier lifestyle, as health does not happen by accident but requires work, smart lifestyle choices, and the occasional medical checkup and test.
Making small, consistent changes to their daily routine can become healthy habits that improve their overall well-being. Maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and being physically active can become a part of their regular day.
Hence, the health minister has expressed hope that the awareness of health will increase both in society and government in issuing policies that support a healthy lifestyle.
To build a strong country, Moeloek said it would start from human quality that was also closely related to health.
"The basis is health, family planning, children with ideal body weight; and therefore, a mother should be able to maintain the health of her children," the health minister remarked.
She acknowledges that the work to awaken everyone about the importance of maintaining health is quite difficult, and this is proven by statistics showing that only 20 percent of Indonesians really understand the importance of maintaining health.
To continue improving the health of Indonesians, Moeloek emphasized the importance of inter-ministerial roles in dealing with health issues that cannot be handled by the Ministry of Health alone.
"All the relevant ministries should cooperate and integrate to address these health problems," the health minister remarked in Jakarta recently.
She explained that the Ministry of Health needs the role of other ministries to create a healthy lifestyle in the community.
Moeloek acknowledged the challenges faced by health personnel in providing services to the community in different geographical areas of each region of Indonesia.
In addition, budget limitations for the procurement of health facilities and provision of health equipment have been prioritized for the needs of the community health centers.
She invited health workers to change the pattern of health services from curative or healing approach to a more promotional and preventive approach.
Moeloek urged the personnel of the community health centers to proactively identify the cause of the disease from the neighborhood domain and to encourage a healthy lifestyle at an early age in the community.
Adopting healthy habits at an early age can makes it much easier to stick to it, as it can be difficult enough to change them later in life.
From kindergarten and continuing through high school, a comprehensive health education on healthy lifestyle should be an important part of the curriculum.(*)