Jakarta (ANTARA) - Local health centers (puskesmas) are providing free screening for 14 types of diseases, according to the Health Ministry

"The Health Ministry guarantees that the screening of 14 types of diseases at puskesmas is for free," spokesperson for the ministry, Mohammad Syahril, said here on Saturday.

Preventive efforts are more important and make it easier to improve the quality of public health, he added.

The screening activities are also aimed at increasing public awareness and behavioral consistency in living a clean and healthy life.

"Prevention efforts are much more effective at maintaining health than treating sickness. The chances of the body staying healthy are higher with prevention than treatment," he said.

The 14 diseases for which the puskesmas are offering free screening are diabetes mellitus, hypertension, stroke, heart disorders, cervical cancer, breast cancer, tuberculosis, anemia, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), thalassemia, congenital hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone deficiency), and hepatitis.

A study conducted by ASEAN Costs in Oncology (ACTION) found that nearly 50 percent of cancer patients experience bankruptcy or financial problems after 12 months of treatment, Syahril noted.

In addition, World Bank data shows that the total out-of-pocket health expenditure in Indonesia has reached 34.76 percent, which is far above the WHO recommendation of 20 percent.

The figure indicates that unexpected spending on health remains a challenge despite the existence of insurance.

As only 33 percent of the Indonesian population undergoes screening for non-communicable diseases, efforts to optimize preventive health services are running into barriers, Syahril said.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of cancer patients in Indonesia are considered late in getting treatment.

“This can reduce treatment success and the quality of public health," he said.

Indonesia can save more funds if more people conduct early screening for non-infectious diseases. Last year, the government spent Rp24.1 trillion (US$1.6 billion) for funding the handling of non-communicable diseases, an increase from Rp17.9 trillion (US$1.2 billion) in 2021.

"We hope that public awareness of disease prevention will increase and people will care more about health," Syahril remarked.

Related news: Optimize four funding sources to tackle stunting, village heads told
Related news: Ministry urges regional governments to bolster basic health services

Translator: Astrid H, Kenzu
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
Copyright © ANTARA 2023