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Hospitals Paralyzed by Nationwide Walkout of Doctors in Indonesia

'Stop Criminalizing Doctors!' was the cry of doctors against a Supreme Court ruling which found three doctors guilty of malpractice. Photo by Akbar Gumay, Copyright @Demotix (11/27/2013)

‘Stop Criminalizing Doctors!’ was the cry of doctors against a Supreme Court ruling which found three doctors guilty of malpractice. Photo by Akbar Gumay, Copyright @Demotix (11/27/2013)

Doctors in Indonesia are protesting the Supreme Court ruling against three obstetricians who were sentenced to 10 months in jail for committing malpractice that led to the death of 25 year-old Julia Fransiska Makatey in Manado, North Sulawesi.

In 2010, Makatey, a nurse working in a remote town in Papua, was supposed to deliver her third child in her hometown Manado. Makatey's father accused the obstetricians of negligence saying that they left his laboring daughter without surveillance or proper treatment for 13 hours.

In 2011, the North Sulawesi Chapter of Medical Ethics Board cleared the three obstetricians of negligence or ethical violations. But the Supreme Court found the doctors guilty of the charge.

On Wednesday (11/27), doctors conducted a nationwide walkout against the malpractice sentence issued by the Supreme Court against a few of their colleagues. Doctors, medical students, and health professionals are sharing their thoughts about the case and the protest that followed:

All the doctors in Indonesia rejecting the criminalization. This time in Manado, don't let it happen in other regions.

 Stop criminalizing doctors! #colleagues 

 In principle, doctors want to save others, not kill them.

Twitter users are split whether or not the protest is necessary or ethical:

Nationwide doctor strike tomorrow will not generate public sympathy. The support against malpractice can be done in other ways, not by doing a strike, docs.

3 doctors, 1 life, many doctors to strike on the 27th. How many lives (will it cost)? Stop malpractice, doctors are not immune to law.

It's strange that renegade doctors are being defended by their colleagues, while patients everywhere are being abandoned.

While the doctors were out protesting, there were reports that some hospitals were refusing incoming patients. In a remote area of East Nusa Tenggara, a mother was even forced to deliver her baby in a clinic's restroom [ID] due to the walk-out.

The Indonesian Doctors Association clarified [id] that ER doctors and those working in public clinics will not join the solidarity protest.

Paulus Santosa, a public health consultant and maternal health program advisor said that in the past five years, maternal mortality in Indonesia has increased by 50 percent, the highest in Southeast Asia. Facebook user Stephen Suleeman, posted Santosa's reflection:

Dalam laporan tentang kematian maternal, yg disalahkan selalu para bidan, yg dikatakan bahwa kwalitas keterampilan mereka rendah. Sekarang, ketika seorang dokter spesialist dihukum, semua dokter anggota IDI dan Dinas Kesehatan mogok dan demo dijalan. “Kematian itu ada ditangan Tuhan dan bukan dokter” kata para pen-demo. Mereka yg demo tahu siapa nama dokter yg dihukum, tetapi mereka banyak yg tidak tahu dan peduli nama dari Fransiska dan ribuan ibu yg mati di fasilitas kesehatan. Tidak ada satupun yg prihatin kalau angka kematian ibu di Indonesia adalah yg terbesar diantara negara tentangga. Tidak satu pun yg prihatin kalau selama 5 tahun ini kematian ibu melonjak 50%. “Kematian itu ada ditangan Tuhan”, lantas mengapa kita repot bicara penurunan angka kematian ibu. Doakan saja di tempat ibadah dan target MDG akan tercapai.

Maternal death reports often blame midwives for their lack of skills. Now when a specialist doctor is being punished, members of the Indonesian Doctors Association and Health Agency are striking and protesting in the streets. “Death lies in the hands of God, not doctors” said the protesters. Those who protest know the names of the implicated doctors, but most of them don't know or care the name of Fransiska and thousands of mothers who died in health facilities. Nobody was concerned that Indonesia's maternal mortality rate is the highest compared to its neighbor countries. Nobody was concerned that in the past 5 years, the maternal mortality has increased by 50%. “Death lies in the hands of God”, if so, then why should we bother talking about reducing maternal deaths. We should better pray about it and hope to reach the MDG targets.

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