State-run Padjadjaran University (Unpad) in Bandung, West Java, has been finalizing a plan to offer free tuition for students of its school of medicine and is expecting to be able to implement it by 2016.
Unpad Rector Tri Hanggono Achmad said the idea of offering free lectures had to do with the need for doctors across Indonesia, while demand for members of the profession at private-run hospitals was also high and rising.
"Especially as the people's access to health services is getting higher thanks to the implementation of national health security [JKN], many hospitals cannot provide services because of a lack of personnel," Tri said in Bandung on Saturday night.
Unpad, according to Tri, saw it as an opportunity. Stakeholders in need of doctors, he said, should have been willing to invest in human resources.
One way of doing so is by offering scholarships to medical students.
"Once the students graduate, they are projected to develop their respective regions," said Tri.
Tri said that the concept of offering free tuition for students of its medical school had been prepared since 2012.
With regard to the concept, according to Tri, the Health Ministry had been mulling over whether to increase the status of six regional-administration-run hospitals into reference hospitals in West Java.
So far, West Java, which has a population of 45 million, only has a reference hospital, namely Hasan Sadikin General Hospital.
The six hospitals whose statuses were to be increased, Tri said, were located in Cirebon regency, Tasikmalaya city, Bandung regency, Sukabumi regency, Karawang and Cibinong.
They will all be included in the network of academic hospitals.
The scholarship scheme, according to Tri, would be advantageous both for the students and the funding regional administrations or private-run hospitals.
"The students will be assured of jobs after study. Regional administrations and private hospitals will be able to distribute medical personnel according to their respective needs," he said.
He added that the concept currently was waiting for approval from the Finance Minister before it was sent to the President for further approval.
State-owned Unpad is currently applying a single tuition fee to all its students from 50 different study programs in 16 schools, although the actual costs ranged between Rp 500,000 (S$50) and Rp 13 million per semester.
The highest tuition fee of Rp 13 million per semester, he said, was for the students of the School of Medicine and of the School of Dentistry.
"Every year we have a quota of 250 seats for the School of Medicine and 160 seats for the School of Dentistry," Tri said.
Separately, the head of the Bandung Health Agency, Achmad Kustijadi, said that the regency had been short 47 physicians who were to be assigned to community health centres (Puskesmas) across the region.
The problem, he said, had to do with the classification of doctors as civil servants.
To help deal with the problem, he said, the regency administration took the initiative of recruiting doctors as temporary employees of the administration.
"The programme has been there for two years," Kustijadi said.
Ideally, he said, a Puskesmas having an inpatient facility offering basic obstetric neonatal emergency (PONED) services would need at least five physicians, while those having no PONED service needed three.
Currently, he said, the administration employed 159 doctors, while ideally it should employ 206.
"They exclude the need for dentists," he said.