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Third floating hospital to help Indonesians on remote islands

JAKARTA — The Maluku Islands – dubbed the thousand-island province of Indonesia with 1,450 islands – is set to get its first floating hospital.

Third floating hospital to help Indonesians on remote islands

The second floating hospital of DoctorShare, RSA Nusa Waluya I. (Photo courtesy of DoctorShare)

JAKARTA — The Maluku Islands – dubbed the thousand-island province of Indonesia with 1,450 islands – is set to get its first floating hospital. 

A barge will be outfitted as a three-storey hospital with clinics, emergency room, operating theatres, maternity wards and ICUs. It is the third such hospital started by DoctorShare, a non-profit foundation aiming to provide free medical service to Indonesians on remote islands.

DoctorShare was set up in 2012 by a surgeon, Dr Lie Dharmawan, who sold his own house to buy the foundation’s first ship. It is called Rumah Sakit Apung (Floating Hospital, RSA). 

The second ship is RSA Nusa Waluya I. The third floating hospital will be christened RSA Nusa Waluya II and it is expected to begin operations in the next four months. 

Each year, each ship visits about 10 islands to help the sick and train health practitioners on the spot.

Dr Dharmawan’s tireless dedication earned him the Kick Andy Heroes Award in 2014. His appearance on the Kick Andy Heroes television show inspired the owner of a shipping firm, Multi Agung Sarana Ananda, to give him a barge to transform into another floating hospital.

“When Dr Dharmawan saw me coming with the blueprint of the barge, he immediately got up and pointed to one spot on the map of Indonesia,” said Ms Julia Windasari Tan, the daughter of the shipping firm owner. “He said, ‘here, Julia, is where I want to put the barge’.” 

Dr Dharmawan was pointing to Maluku Islands. The province has a high maternal mortality rate, with 199 deaths per 100,000 live births, and high neonatal mortality rate, with nine deaths per 1,000 live births.

“You would see many severely malnourished toddlers there, skeleton-thin with distended abdomens,” said Dr Marselina Mieke, secretary general of DoctorShare.

It will take a lot of effort and resources to convert the barge into a hospital, said Ms Tan.

“We need about RP 10 billion (about S$1 million) to transform the barge into a floating hospital and to buy the necessary medical equipment,” she said.

Indonesia, with more than 17,000 islands, is the biggest archipelago country in the world. 

Many of the islands, however, are remote and often lack modern infrastructure and healthcare facilities. This was what prompted Dr Dharmawan to set up DoctorShare.

More than 250 Indonesian doctors affiliated with the foundation take turns serving at its hospitals.

“We’ve been raising funds (for the third hospital) since 2016. We’ve already collected more than 65 per cent of what is needed,” said Ms Tan.

To cover the remaining 35 per cent, DoctorShare, in collaboration with Lions Club International District 307-A1, will hold a charity dinner and art auction in Jakarta, on April 18. 

The auction will see five paintings by top artists Andy Dewantoro, Christine Ay Tjoe, Entang Wiharso, Oky Rey Montha and Sinta Tantra.

“We’ve chosen these famous artists, so that people should be more inclined to buy the works,” said Ms Inge Santoso, owner of CAN’s Gallery, which represents the painters.

During the event, guests can also adopt a room in the floating hospital to be named after them.

Tickets for the dinner are sold for RP 2.5 million and RP 5 million. About half of them, 100, have already been sold.

“If the concert and auction are successful, they should cover all the remaining costs. We’re already in the renovation process. If all goes well, the floating hospital should be ready within the next four months,” said Ms Tan.

In the first year, the new hospital is going to serve about 150,000 patients in 85 islands of the Western South-east Maluku, and train more than 400 health practitioners in the area. JAKARTA GLOBE

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