"The health ministry`s agenda must proceed with the system."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The resignation of ailing health minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih should not hamper the health ministry in implementing its programmes, including its plan to build hospitals for the poor under a social security provider scheme.

"The health ministry`s agenda must proceed with the system. Moreover, there is a deputy health minister who can take over the duties and there are director generals who are responsible for the implementation of priority programmes," said legislator Zuber Safawi of the House of Representatives (DPR)`s Commission IX for health affairs.

If the system is running well, the government`s programmes at the ministry should not necessarily be hampered by the absence of a minister. "We acknowledge that the strategic leadership position at the ministry has been disturbed, yet the programmes must go on particularly the ones relating to management of health services, promotion of health, and prevention of diseases, which are now being intensified by the health ministry," he stated.

Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih resigned on Thursday on health grounds in order to undergo a lung cancer treatment. The 57-year-old minister has undergone a variety of medical treatment, including radiotherapy and cryosurgery at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital (RSCM).

Appointed as the health minister in 2009, Endang was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer last October and was admitted to the RSCM last week.

"The latest working meeting we had with the minister was last January, to discuss the progress in work and performance of the ministry of health. She looked healthy. We hope she recovers soon," Zuber said.

RSCM President Director Akmal Taher said on Thursday that Endang was still fully conscious and was able to communicate well.

"She is treated while being in a fully conscious condition. We are still conducting several examinations," Akmal told the press.

He said Endang had been undergoing medical rehabilitation and physiotherapy for three weeks. "Her condition has not yet improved from last week, but it does not mean that she is getting worse. She can still communicate well," Akmal added.

The team handling Endang`s health comprises five to six doctors from RSCM, Dharmais Hospital, and the Army Hospital RSPAD. They are intensively monitoring her health, but for the sake of confidentiality, Akmal said, they would not reveal the stage of the disease.

The team also coordinated with doctors who handled Endang`s health in China sometime ago. The minister has no plans yet to go overseas for treatment.

Earlier, Deputy Health Minister Ali Ghufron had stated that the minister was still undergoing treatment for cancer. "She is undergoing medical treatment. Sometimes [her condition] is stable, but sometimes it drops. I do not know her exact condition, but I heard she was suffering from a fourth-stage cancer. The matter is known to the public," Ali said.

On Thursday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vice President Boediono, and two other ministers Minister for Women Empowerment and Child Protection Linda Amalia Sari and Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Elka Pangestu visited Endang at Cipto Mangunkusomo hospital.

After visited Endang at the hospital, the President revealed that she had tendered her resignation.

He said that Endang expressed a desire to resign from her ministerial post because her health conditions hampered her ability to fulfil her duties as a minister.

"She told me that she wanted to resign and I was moved to hear it," the President informed the press.

According to media reports, President Yudhoyono has accepted the resignation. He stated that he respected the minister`s wishes, but he was hopeful of her recovery.

"I have to respect [her decision] and I approved her resignation," the President was quoted by the Jakarta Globe as saying.

President Yudhoyono said that Endang decided to resign so she could concentrate on treating her illness and allow the ministry to function without the distraction of an absent minister.

The President added that Endang had fulfilled her duties well so far, and when he visited places with her, the health minister always worked hard. "She worked well days and nights," he added.

President Yudhoyono has appointed Ali to temporarily fill the vacant post. "For the time being, the duties of the minister will be carried out by the deputy health minister and by the relevant officials," he said.

Presidential Spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said the President was yet to appoint a new minister, adding that in the interim period Endang's duties would be handed over to Ali and echelon I officials at the health ministry.

Reporter: by Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2012