Indonesia’s Minister of Health Addresses WMA Council

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Wilson_edited-1 (04.04.13) With the sound of the ceremonial gong, Dr. Nafsiah Mboi, Minister of Health for Indonesia, opened the 194th session of the World Medical Association (WMA) Council meeting this morning in Bali, Indonesia.

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From left - Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal (WMA Council Chair), Dr. Nafsiah Mboi (Minister of Health, Indonesia), Dr. Cecil Wilson (WMA President), Dr. Otmar Kloiber (WMA Secretary General)

Dr. Mboi, a pediatrician by training, with a masters in public health, addressed members of the Council and guests on the health care challenges of a large island country (population 242 million spread over 17,508 islands) with limited resources and significant health care disparities. She pointed out that advances in medicine have made diseases such as leprosy and cancer curable. She said that advances in technology enable early identification of diseases. But she emphasized that the health outcomes that are a result of technology are costly and out of reach for many. Dr. Mboi stated that in addition to infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases with their accompanying root causes, the social determinants of health, are increasing in frequency in Indonesia, as is the case throughout the world.

Dr. Mboi spoke at some length about the shortage of physicians in Indonesia. In addition physicians are migrating from rural to city, and public to private. And worldwide physicians are migrating from countries lower on the economic scale such as Indonesia to richer countries. All of this “brain drain” makes it difficult to provide care for all who need it, increasing health care disparities.

She reported that in the year 2000 Indonesia de-centralized its health care system. In 2008, in an attempt to respond to the physician shortage, government scholarships were instituted with requirements to serve in areas of manpower need. By 2012 this program had produced 4310 new physicians.

Dr. Mboi urged the World Medical Association to engage in working to alleviate this problem worldwide. In addition, she spoke of the need for us as physicians to preserve the passion to serve in the best interests of patients. She talked eloquently about the importance that those in the health care professions not lose their identity in search of bigger profits.

My introduction of Minister Mboi at the WMA Council meeting is copied below. Her life story is that of a truly dedicated public servant and physician whose career embodies in the best and highest sense the essence of what it means to be a physician.

Madame Nafsiah Mboi
 Minister of Health
The Republic of Indonesia
Bali, Indonesia
April 4, 2013 

It is an honor and my pleasure to introduce Madame Nafsiah Mboi, Minister of Health for the Republic of Indonesia.

Madame Mboi is a pediatrician and health activist who has been involved in public policy for over three decades.

She was sworn in as Indonesia’s minister of health June 14, 2012.

Originally trained as a pediatrician, Dr. Nafsiah Mboi subsequently earned a Masters of Public Health from the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical medicine in Belgium in 1990.

She was a research fellow at Harvard University’s Takemi Program in International Health, where she became involved in HIV/AIDS research and prevention.

She served as a member of Indonesia’s Parliament from 1992 to 1997.

Internationally, she has served as Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and also as Director of the Department of Gender and Women's Health at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

Dr. Nafsiah Mboi has more than 40 years of experience in national and global public health, including a full career as a civil servant in the Ministry of Health.

She served six years as Secretary of Indonesia's National AIDS Commission, where she oversaw planning, coordination and implementation of the national response to HIV and AIDS, and expanded the involvement of both government and civil society organizations including work with faith-based communities and private sector initiatives.

March 13, The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria selected Nafsiah Mboi to be its next Board Chair for a two-year term starting in June of 2013.

Dr. Nafsiah Mboi has been described as an effective and highly effective leader.

She is a strong and ferocious advocate for those most in need especially those who are at risk of or who have HIV/AIDS.

Madame Minister we are honored to have you here for the Council meeting of the World Medical Association.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Nafsiah Mboi, Minister of Health the Republic of Indonesia.

WMA President Cecil. B. Wilson, MD travels around the world talking about the WMA's work representing the millions of physicians worldwide. Acting on behalf of patients and physicians, the WMA endeavors to achieve the highest possible standards of medical care, ethics, education and health related human rights for all people. This blog will chronicle these travels and important issues.