Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Health Ministry has said that a medical team from Saudi Arabia is currently stationed at Adam Malik Hospital, Medan, North Sumatra, to help save lives and train local doctors to perform advanced heart surgeries.

"Foreign doctors' presence in Indonesia will trigger quality improvement and hasten knowledge transfer for young doctors in Indonesia," Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a statement received here on Monday.

According to the minister, the team of 22 Saudi Arabian medical professionals comprises 11 doctors and 11 assisting personnel, such as specialist nurses, a perfusionist, and respiratory therapists from King Faisal Cardiac Center (KFCC), King Abdul-Aziz Medical City (KAAMC), and King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC).

He said that the knowledge transfer from the Saudi team covers AV (aortic valve) replacement and the Bentall procedure, both of which have never been performed in North Sumatra before. These are complex open heart surgeries used to fix damaged heart valves, he explained.

The initiative, he added, is part of the second pillar of the Referral Health System Transformation, under which all central and regional government hospitals are expected to carry out open heart surgeries without referring patients to Jakarta.

He noted that heart disease is the second-highest cause of mortality, which claims the lives of 250 thousand people and six thousand children annually in Indonesia.

The foreign doctors' presence in Indonesia must be seen as an effort to save lives and reduce the mortality rate as well as improve the quality of local doctors, he said.

It should not be seen as a means to take away the incomes or jobs of local health personnel, Sadikin added.

According to the minister, their presence is part of a collaboration between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, under which Adam Malik Hospital is working with King Salman (KS) Relief and Saudi Arabia's Muslim World League to offer free heart surgeries to patients of lower socioeconomic status as part of social assistance.

The social assistance is being offered in three phases. The first was from early May to May 27, 2024, during which 10 patients were targeted for the surgeries. The second phase from June 2–9 and the third phase from June 25– July 1 will target 15 to 20 patients each.

Head of the cardiovascular services counselor team at Adam Malik Hospital, Dr. Faisal Habib, said that the Saudi Arabian team shared knowledge on advanced open heart surgeries and catheterization with the hospital's doctors.

"One of their advanced ability is performing heart surgeries without fully opening the whole chest, but only a little part of it. This is their ability which we have to learn," he added.

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Reporter: Mecca Yumna Ning Prisie
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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