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Indonesian hospitals hit back at Covid-19 graft claims

Association chief denies suggestions medical facilities were diagnosing coronavirus cases to turn a profit

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Indonesian hospitals hit back at Covid-19 graft claims

A nurse leads morning exercise for Covid-19 patients in Karawaci in Indonesia's Banten province on Oct. 5. Indonesia’s hospital association has denied suggestions that it was deliberately misdiagnosing people to claim government subsidies. (Photo: Adek Berry/AFP)

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The Indonesian Hospital Association (PERSI) has condemned recent comments by government officials suggesting some health facilities were falsely diagnosing Covid-19 cases for profit, saying such talk would erode public trust in the healthcare system.

The government covers all the medical costs regarding the treatment of a patient diagnosed with Covid-19, which has led to suspicion among some government officials that medical facilities are exploiting the system.

The association’s vehement denial followed comments by presidential chief of staff Moeldoko and Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo last week at a meeting to discuss reassessing the number of deaths thought to have been caused by Covid-19.

A reassessment was necessary to prevent the exploitation of the system as “not all deaths were caused by Covid-19,” according to Moeldoko.

Supporting his remarks, Pranowo said some people in Central Java province were diagnosed with coronavirus following their deaths even though their test results had not been revealed.

Hospital association chairman Kuntjoro Adi Purjanto said the comments were tantamount to accusing hospitals of committing fraud.

“Building an opinion of how hospitals diagnose patients with Covid-19 can create misunderstanding and greatly erode public trust in hospitals and weaken the spirit and sincerity of service carried out by such facilities and medical workers,” he said in a statement on Oct. 4.

“This can negatively affect a hospital’s service for patients. If such statements can be proven, PERSI would support punishing unscrupulous medical workers or hospitals.” 

Purjanto said PERSI “is willing to cooperate with other stakeholders to improve the healthcare system including the Covid-19 treatment” and “welcomes inputs, ideas and complaints delivered in a proper way.”

Speaking to UCA News, Dr. Felix Gunawan, executive director of the Catholic Association of Indonesian Health Services (Perdhaki), said if the allegations were true, the alleged fraud would be “highly unethical and a severe breach of public trust.”

As of Oct. 5, Indonesia had recorded 307,120 Covid-19 cases and 11,253 deaths.

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