Jakarta (ANTARA) - The rejection of the Health Bill hampers efforts to improve legal protection for healthcare workers, said Mohammad Syahril, spokesperson for the Health Ministry, on Sunday.

"If the concern truly lies with legal protection, then why didn't the professional organizations move to change that a long time ago?" he asked.

He stated that the articles which have been a matter of concern for many medical workers have actually been in the law for the last two decades.

The spokesperson said that the bill highlights improvements in legal protection for doctors, midwives, nurses, pharmacists and other medical professions.

"The DPR (the House of Representatives) actually started an initiative to improve the existing law, so the articles pertaining to legal protection will become better. The government, too, supports this effort," he remarked.

Syahril drew attention to the many legal issues that medical workers could continue to face if people kept rejecting the Bill, considering that such objections would not bring about change to the existing regulations on medical personnel's protection.

Among the things in the Health Bill considered as problematic by the professional organization is the one which says that a doctor can be sued, despite having already undergone a hearing on disciplinary action, he noted.

Article 66 Section 1 of Medical Practices Law Number 29 of 2004 states that anyone who knows that a doctor or dentist violated their rights or interests during medical practices can file a complaint to the head of the Indonesian Medical Disciplinary Board, he pointed out.

The third section of the same law states that the complaint does not eliminate everyone's right to report to court about allegations of crimes or sue for damages, he added.

He affirmed that the DPR and the government are still discussing those articles in order to improve them.

He also highlighted some suggestions raised for the bill, one of which regards settlement outside court, since the bill adopts a restorative justice stance, as per Article 322 Section 4 of the government's version of Problems Inventory List (DIM) which discloses an anti-bullying policy.

Medical staff may stop services if they are being treated badly, such as being bullied or abused, he explained.

The DIM's Article 208E Section 1 Letter A also elaborates on protection against mental and physical abuse as well as bullying for practicing medical students, Syahril added.

The bill also lists the protection for these medical students and ensures that they have access to legal aid should they face any issues while they are pursuing their education, he added.

Protection of medical staff at emergency situations are also mentioned in the Health Bill, he said.

Syahril elaborated that medical personnel who are on their duties to address extraordinary events or disease have the right to obtain legal protection, safety and medical guarantees from the government, as per Article 408 Section 1 of the DIM.

"The House of Representatives and the government are still discussing articles on legal protection, and we are open to suggestions from people," he said.

Syahril opined that hindering the progression of the bill was not the right solution.

Related news: Authorities ensure health services unhindered by protest: Minister
Related news: Doctors' protest should not interfere with public service: Ministry

Translator: Andi Firdaus, Mecca Yumna
Editor: Anton Santoso
Copyright © ANTARA 2023