Thirty-three medical professionals have been selected to form the first batch of a new state-sponsored volunteer group to provide health services in isolated regions across Indonesia.
The volunteers for Pencerah Nusantara (Archipelago Enlighteners) were selected by the presidential office dedicated to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which said in a statement on Friday that the team is made up of eight doctors, six midwives, eight nurses and 11 health observers.
The statement said the focus of the group’s primary medical services interventions would be preventive care, education and advocacy.
The team, which will serve for one year at Puskesmas community health centers in provinces including West Sumatra, East Java, East Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi and West and East Nusa Tenggara.
“Health is a fundamental to humans and it will determine the quality of their life in the future,” said Nila Anfasa Moeloek, the special presidential envoy for the MDGs.
There are just eight nurses or midwives and one doctor for every 10,000 people in the country, according to the World Health Organization’s 2010 World Health Report, leaving Indonesia worse off than less-developed nations East Timor and Uganda.
The president’s MDG office focuses on strengthening primary health care services to improve welfare, Nila said.
“We have to remember that health is the responsibility of us all, not only that of health practitioners. Therefore we have the responsibility to work together to educate society on the importance of keeping one’s health,” the official added.
A total of 1,043 people, all aged under 30 and with medical field qualifications, registered as candidates for the Pencerah Nusantara program between May 4 and June 30.
The 33 were picked after undergoing a second round of selection from July 4 to 14 that judged their clinical competency and leadership qualities.
“It was not easy for our team to conduct the selection process because each and every participant had really good capabilities,” said Diah S. Saminasih, a special assistant to the president for MDGs.
The application process, she said, had managed to unearth “stars at the grass-roots level.”
The 33 selectees are slated to undergo six weeks of additional preparatory training.