Magelang Scores High, Papua Low In Health Survey

The Jakarta Globe

Jakarta. Magelang in Central Java and Pegunungan Bintang in Papua have come out at the top and the bottom, respectively, in a survey ranking health care quality across the country.

The results of the Ministry of Health’s Community Health Development Index (IPKM) survey of 440 districts and municipalities, unveiled over the weekend, measured the quality of health care systems based on 24 criteria.

Trihono, from the Health Ministry’s Research and Development Board, said the indicators included the prevalence of mental disorders, access to clean water, the ratio of doctors to the general population and immunization rates.

He said that the purpose of the ministry’s survey was to help formulate intervention programs specifically tailored to the unique health issues facing each region.

The areas surveyed were given scores between 0 and 1, the latter denoting the highest possible rating.

The latest survey shows that Magelang in Central Java has the best health care quality with a score of 0.709.

Meanwhile, Pegunungan Bintang, in the mountainous range running through the center of Papua, has the worst health care quality with a score of 0.247.

“Of the 20 districts at the bottom of the ranking, 14 are located in eastern Indonesia, mostly in Papua province,” Trihono said.

According to Umar Fahmi Ahmadi, a public health expert from University of Indonesia, one of the main reasons many parts of the nation’s eastern reaches had weak health care systems was geographic inaccessibility.

“In these places, which are surrounded by difficult terrain, more money has to be spent on overhead such as transportation instead of health care systems,” Umar said.

Trihono said the government was planning to provide areas with low scores more intensive assistance, including experts to help them deal with some of the major problems they faced.

Purnawan Junaidi, another public health expert from University of Indonesia, said that a district’s wealth was not necessarily an indication of its health care quality.

“Yogyakarta is one example of a district that is not rich but has a good health care system,” Purnawan said. Yogyakarta’s score, 0.695, puts it in fourth place, just after Salatiga, also in Central Java.

According to Umar, the reason some of the poorer districts had better health care systems was because they did not have high levels of social and economic inequality.

“Let’s take South Jakarta as an example. South Jakarta is in a lower position than Magelang, Bantul or Madiun because it has a high level of inequality and a big gap between the rich and poor,” he said.

Magelang, Yogyakarta and Salatiga, he said, had more homogenous societies with larger middle classes.

Some Indonesian Officials and Sex Workers Say It’s Safer to Keep Prostitution Centralized

The Jakarta Globe

Indonesia. Although prostitution is technically illegal in Jakarta, it is common knowledge that it can easily be found throughout the capital. Some government officials and sex workers say the best way to keep prostitutes safe is to have them work in centralized areas where health guidelines can be enforced and monitored.

Officials from the National AIDS Prevention Commission (KPA) spent time on Saturday educating sex workers at a karaoke bar in West Jakarta’s Taman Sari subdistrict about the proper and necessary use of condoms.

Ajianto Dwi Nugroho, from the KPA, said that as the sex trade became more spread out, it grew much more difficult to monitor the health of sex workers and provide education about the risks of their profession.

“Local politicians have been known to order the shutdown of red-light areas during election campaigns. And they do get shut down,” Ajianto said on Sunday.

“But this is no solution to the problem of prostitution. What happens is that the sex workers simply move further underground.”

“They end up walking the streets, going to bus stands or food stalls to try to sell their bodies. Then they have no access to information on how to protect themselves. They receive no regular health checks, no sex education from NGOs or the government and, in the worst-case scenario, they become slaves to terrible pimps,” Ajianto said.

“Take Rawa Malang [a red-light district in North Jakarta]. The pimps there will ask their prostitutes to drink five bottles of beer a day, or even demand their girls pay them if they fail to secure a customer.”

But this is not always the case. Sex workers at the karaoke bar the KPA visited had good things to say about working conditions.

Weni, a 40-year-old prostitute, said all the sex workers at the bar were required to have a health check every three months, particularly to spot STDs.

“I feel lucky to work as a prostitute in such an organized and clean place as this. The club owners show us how to maintain our health. They even allow us to say no to customers if they do not want to use a condom,” she said.

“I cannot imagine how bad my health would be if I worked on the streets. I would not know about all the risks of prostitution.

“Everybody working here is like family. The prostitutes, the boss, the cleaning service guys, the waiters and even the regular customers are family. We respect each other and treat each other properly. It is because we understand completely what kinds of lives we actually live.”

Weni said the prostitutes working at the club did not see themselves as criminals.

“We do not steal, we do not rob. We sell our bodies voluntarily because we want to have better lives. We also do not harm others. We always play safe by staying healthy.”

Tari, an 18-year-old sex worker at the bar, said one of her initial customers had been violent, particularly after she refused to have sex without a condom.

“I was slapped and hit hard by my customer. It was crazy. But, I think Rp 100,000 [$11] is not worth taking such a dangerous health risk,” she said.

The club charges as much as Rp 225,000 per client, which covers an hour of “massage services” in a room. Of this, the woman earns Rp 100,000, not including tips, said Leha, a 32-year-old prostitute.

Jakarta’s Migrant Workers Sweat to Make Rupiah Stretch

The Jakarta Globe

Jakarta. Among the millions of who flock to Jakarta in search of jobs each year, many will tell you they can subsist on minimum wage, but it’s unlikely to be any fun.

People living on slightly above or below the monthly minimum wage — to be raised to Rp 1.29 million ($143) in 2011 — have their work cut out for them.

For photographer Sugiharto, making ends meet on just Rp 1.4 million a month is a challenge.

The 35-year-old father of two, married to a public school teacher in Bekasi, said he had been trying to use his networking skills to land photography jobs, selling personalized services for customers and corporations.

Though his wife earns Rp 800,000 a month, Sugiharto says their combined income is barely sufficient.

“It’s never enough if you live in Jakarta,” he said. “We have a list of bills to pay which we struggle to meet.”

Sugiharto says his firstborn’s monthly school fees are Rp 160,000, the family’s electricity bill runs up to Rp 250,000, and around Rp 600,000 goes toward transportation. “So if I don’t look for extra income, how can I support my family properly?”

Budi Hartono, 26, who works for a cleaning service, says he continually racks up debts just to be able to support his family.

“I trust my wife to manage my monthly salary. It’s not much, just Rp 980,000. Even though we have no children, my monthly salary isn’t enough,” he said, adding his debts made him uneasy. “Early in the month, I always try to pay off my debts slowly. Only then can I think of buying luxuries like chicken, meat or fish. And all of that is just [for] the first week of the month.”

Tutut, 23, who works at a juice counter at the Plaza Semanggi mall, says she earns Rp 1.05 million a month, with half of it going to her parents and the remainder spent on commutes.

She says she looks forward to Idul Fitri, when she gets her bonus and can buy new clothes.

“It’s nothing fancy, but it’s the only time I can finally treat myself to something special,” Tutut said. “I can’t really do much with my salary as it is.

“It might not be fun to live on a small salary, but I’m so grateful to have a job and help my family,” she added.

“I just hope that when my salary increases, the living costs don’t increase as well, so I can manage my life better.”

Pretty Face Secret to Success in Indonesian Broadcast News

The Jakarta Globe

Jakarta. The media is a powerful force in forming public opinion, but all too often, that power is used in a way that reinforces the exploitation of women for profit, analysts, activists and professionals working in the industry say.

Women working both in front of the camera and behind it are often judged based on standards of physical beauty.

In visual media, Indonesian female journalists are almost always conventionally attractive, with light skin, trim figures and long hair.

Experts say this ideal of feminine perfection represents a skewed image of reality.

“In our daily life, when was the last time you saw a woman of great physical beauty walk elegantly to a busway stop, as what some audio-visual advertisements show?” says Mariana Amiruddin, editor in chief of Jurnal Perempuan, a women’s rights magazine.

“A few years ago, there was so much critical writing about beauty advertising in media. But unfortunately, nowadays it seems that the beauty myth in advertising has instead spread out and influenced the journalism world.”

And some female journalists back her claim, saying that physical beauty, not talent, is the essential element for a successful onscreen career.

Luviana, a news producer with private broadcaster Metro TV, says many female journalists are not allowed to present their own news reports because they do not have a “camera face.”

“There are many television companies which will only hire female news anchors who have won a beauty contest or used to be models,” she says.

“The reason why television companies hire female anchors is based on the myth of beauty. They believe it helps them earn more profits. Other than that, many male sources, from the police or at the parliament for example, would much rather be interviewed by a good-looking female journalist,” Luviana adds.

Chantal Della Concetta, a former news anchor for RCTI, is diplomatic about the industry’s preference for beauty.

“It doesn’t mean that physical beauty is the only requirement for a news anchor. Keep in mind that inner beauty is a must for a news anchor. We have to be smart to ask questions and analyze the current issues,” Chantal says.

Many viewers, however, look past a pretty face in their search for substantive news.

“I do not like to watch a news anchor who appears too arrogant when interviewing their source, either ordinary people, actresses or actors or a member of the House,” says Faozan Latief, a television viewer in Jakarta.

“Yes, they might be pretty. But what do we need after all if we are watching a news program? To watch the anchor or get the news?” he says.

Iswandi Syahputra, a media analyst and member of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI), explains that in the broadcast and television sector, many women working as news anchors, actresses or advertising models welcome the chance to be judged on the basis of their looks, believing that any resulting popularity is a path to economic success.

But beyond those working in the media sector, experts say women are often exploited for the sake of producing sensational — and popular — news stories.

Neng Dara Afifah, a senior member of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), says there are many blatant cases of unethical newspapers and TV programs churning out stories about sexually abused women.

“When it comes to sexual abuse, women as the victims are always exposed, but what about the perpetrators?” Neng says.

She says media companies, which sensationalize what should be private cases, are actually guilty of “sexual violence” against the victims.

Since January, Komnas Perempuan has recorded 151 news reports of sexual violence against women.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and Komnas Perempuan are urging journalists to apply the Indonesian journalists’ code of ethics, in particular articles 4,5 and 8.

“Those three articles focus on gender perspective, requiring journalists to show sympathy to the victims of sexual abuse in their reporting,” says Rach Alida Bahaweres, coordinator of the women’s division at AJI.

Drug Distribution Better Regulated to Fight Fakes

The Jakarta Globe

Jakarta. The national drug administration has announced a new campaign to control the distribution of medicine and stem the circulation of counterfeit drugs.

Lucky S. Slamet, deputy director of the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM), said on Monday that of the approximately 7,500 medicines in current circulation in the Indonesian market, counterfeiters were producing copies of up to 20 of the more popular ones.

He said these included “lifestyle medicines” such as Viagra, as well as life-saving drugs such as the antimalarial Fansidar.

“Those products sell very well,” he said. “The counterfeiters make a lot of money, but they overlook the health impact.”

To deal with the issue, he said, the BPOM had set up the National Single Point of Contact, a post within the agency that would be responsible for the national circulation of medicine.

“Besides establishing the SPOC, we’re also campaigning through the media for greater public awareness about counterfeit medicines,” he said.

“We lack the manpower to campaign directly to the public, so we need help from NGOs and the media to run campaigns on how to identify counterfeit medicine. However, it’s possible some people might not be able to make the distinction.”

He added in this case, people should only purchase medicine at authorized places, such as pharmacies or hospitals.

“This is the easiest way to avoid purchasing counterfeit medicine,” Lucky said.

The Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI) says the lost revenue from counterfeit drugs amounts to Rp 2.5 trillion ($280 million) annually.

Tulus Abadi, a YLKI official, said the high cost of patented drugs had provided the opportunity for counterfeiters to flourish with much cheaper knockoffs.

“The government doesn’t provide medicine for free, so when it comes to buying them, most patients opt for the cheaper alternative, which can turn out to be counterfeit,” he said, adding the term “counterfeit” did not necessarily mean a drug had no medicinal properties whatsoever.

“It can be just as potent as the original, albeit imported and distributed illegally,” Tulus said.

Meanwhile, Slamet Budiarto, secretary general of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), accused the government of putting the interests of the legitimate producers above those of consumers in this issue.

He said this was apparent in the Health Ministry’s definition of counterfeit drugs, which makes no mention of harmful ingredients. “It’s fine as long as there aren’t any harmful ingredients in the drugs, but what if there are such ingredients, which can delay the healing process or even cause death?” he said.

He added there was also no official data on deaths caused by the use of counterfeit medicine in the country.

Puspo Sumadi, country manager for US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, called for harsher punishment for drug counterfeiters.

“I hope the government changes the laws dealing with drug counterfeiters, because in addition to threatening lives, they also cause losses to the state,” he said.

According to World Health Organization statistics, 10 percent of medicines sold worldwide are fake; while in Indonesia, that figure is closer to 25 percent, as stated in a US Trade Representative report.

The WHO also estimates some 200,000 people die worldwide every year because of the problem.

Hermione, Harry and Hogwarts Fans Gather to Salute the Student Wizards

The Jakarta Globe

For university student Marchella Pradipta, dressing up as Hermione Granger, who the whole world knows is one of Harry Potter’s best friends, is just the thing when going off to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” the latest film in the series.

Marchella, 22, joined some 500 Harry Potter fans for a screening of the latest film on Sunday at Blitzmegaplex in the Grand Indonesia shopping mall. She has been a devotee since her elementary school days.

“I am a huge fan of Harry Potter. I am not at all embarrassed to come to the screening dressed as Hermione,” she said.

Marchella owns a number of Potteresque costumes — school uniforms and dormitory cloaks included — and she also collects matching accessories online.

The crowd on Sunday was liberally sprinkled with costumed Hermiones, Harrys and Ron Weasleys, proving that Jakarta is not as far away as one would think from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the English countryside.

The screening was organized by Indo Harry Potter (IHP), an online fan community. It initially planned for 400 participants, then increased the number to meet demand.

“This is the fifth time that IHP has organized a Harry Potter screening in Jakarta and this is the most crowded one we have had,” said Shafiq, who organized the event.

“We had actually targeted 400 people because we didn’t want Harry Potter fans sitting in the front row and not being able to fully enjoy the film,” he added.

IHP began making preparations for the screening two months ago, charging Rp 85,000 ($9.50) and Rp 65,000 per person for tickets and goody bags.

Anne Lumos, from IHP’s merchandise division, said participants got magic wands, shirts, chocolate frogs, pins and a Harry Potter poster.

The only downside was that not more fans opted for cosplay.

“Three days before the screening, we actually informed the participants that it was a Harry Potter Cosplay but only about 40 participated,” Lumos said.

Airyn Wirawan 22, is a major Harry Potter fan but cosplay is not her thing.

“I don’t really want to dress up as it is a bit of a hassle for me,” she said. “I am more interested in the crowds and getting to know new friends from the screening .”

Indo Harry Potter was established as a mailing list by Eduardi Prahara and Erwin Gunawan in 2001. There are also now dozens of other local sites devoted to the Potter craze.

“It was back in the era when the Internet was not as popular as now. Erwin and I just made Indo Harry Potter because we are fans of Harry Potter,” Eduardi said.

“The first year, we only had 10 members but now there are more than 10,000,” he said, adding that his real life keeps him busy these days while numerous volunteers are around to maintain the IHP forum.

Herayu Nurkusuma Putri, 15, came dressed in a Gryffindor cloak and said she wanted IHP to live on. “I hope IHP will continue to have events that bring us back to the time when the Harry Potter series was still on,” she said

Indonesia’s Borobudur Rising From the Ashes

The Jakarta Globe

Farouk Arnaz & Elisabeth Oktofani

Jakarta. The major eruption of Mount Merapi on Nov. 5, which blanketed surrounding areas in volcanic ash, poses a serious and ongoing threat to ancient temple complexes such as Borobudur.

Officials are concerned the acidic soot will hasten the wearing of the temples, Borobudur in particular, which is covered in up to 3 centimeters of ash.

The site was closed to the public after the eruptions began on Oct. 26, while the government has sent workers in to clean up the temple complex.

“Since Nov. 11, we’ve taken emergency action to keep Borobudur clear of ash by cleaning up 72 stupas and the main stupa, and wrapping them in plastic,” Junus Satrio Atmojo, the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s head of historical and archeological sites, said Saturday.

The government has allocated a total of Rp 600 million ($67,200) to clean up the Buddhist temples of Borobudur, Pawon and Mendut, as well as the Hindu temple complex of Prambanan, he said.

That includes Rp 248 million for Borobudur.

“Cleaning up Borobudur and the three other temples requires that we be extra careful and work step by step to prevent the ash lodging in the pores of the rock surface,” Junus said.

“It’s not a question of hiring more people to help clean up, but of the equipment that we need to buy.”

He added that because the disaster had occurred toward the end of the fiscal year, the government was short of funds to procure the necessary equipment.

“Our experience from the Aceh tsunami in 2004 tells us that cultural heritage and historical buildings are always the last to be budgeted for in the disaster recovery fund, and that’s why we need outside donors,” he said.

“Donors don’t necessarily have to give us cash. We’d be grateful for items such as plastic sheets, hoses, baking soda and anything else we can use to clean the monuments.”

Junus added that Unesco, which lists Borobudur as a world heritage site, had only been able to offer sending an expert to gauge the damage, as it had no experience dealing with volcanic clean-ups.

“We politely declined, as we have plenty of Indonesian experts,” he said.

He added that authorities were in a race against time to clean up the temple and reopen it, given the high number of foreign tourists expected to visit Borobudur, with many booking trips months in advance.

Borobudur is the country’s most popular tourist attraction.

Temple officials have reopened the Borobudur yard and the first of the temple’s nine levels to the public, but the rest of the site remains closed for cleaning.

“That’s because we haven’t been able to remove all the volcanic ash covering the temple,” Iskandar M Siregar, head of technical services for Borobudur management, said on Saturday.

“At this time, we’re only allowing visitors to visit the temple yard and the first level of rock. Visitors are forbidden from climbing on any part of the temple.”

He said it could take up to four weeks to clear away all the ash coating the structure.

“We’re using brooms and dust pans to clean it up, so we can’t go any faster,” he said. “So far, we’ve collected 20 cubic meters of ash.” Iskandar said this represented less than a tenth of the total volcanic ash at the site.

He also rebuffed calls to wait for the rains to wash away the ash, pointing out that this would only complicate matters.

“That’s because the ash would wash into the temple’s drainage system and damage it,” he said.

Clean-up crews are trying as much as possible not to use mechanical equipment, which could damage the rock surface of the temple, he said.

Iskandar also said workers had not yet wrapped up the entire monument in plastic, and were prioritizing the top three levels, where the stupas are located.

“We have to hurry because the ash has a corrosive character, that accelerates the weathering of the stupas and stones,” Iskandar said.

Indonesia’s Geography Holding Back Immunizations: Doctors

The Jakarta Globe

Jakarta. The Health Ministry’s mandatory immunization program for children has been successfully introduced in the majority of provinces, but has yet to take hold in the underdeveloped east of the country, doctors say.

Under the program, all Indonesians must have received 13 different vaccinations before the age of 18, eight of which are available for free at community health centers and general hospitals.

However, health officials meeting in Jakarta at the 2nd National Symposium on Immunization say the program is not reaching enough people in the provinces of Papua, West Papua and West Sulawesi.

“Immunization is very important because it’s an investment in future health,” Dr. Prima Yosephine, an immunization official at the Health Ministry, said during the symposium on Friday.

“Unfortunately, though, we face geographic challenges in implementing the immunization program for all of Indonesia.

“The central government has actually already provided all the vaccines to all 33 provinces across the country, with the provincial administrations expected to manage the distribution down to the district and municipal level,” she said.

“So while we expect the vaccines will be distributed properly, we understand that there are several challenges such as the tough mountainous terrain in West Papua.”

Another obstacle to the success of the program concerns religious belief.

In 2002 and 2005, the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), the country’s highest authority on Islamic affairs, declared that the IPV and OPV polio vaccines were haram , or forbidden under Islam, because they were developed using strains of the virus.

While the MUI’s edicts are not legally binding, they carry substantial weight among the country’s majority Muslim population.

“But even if there are a couple of vaccinations that we’ve declared forbidden, that doesn’t mean we’ve closed our eyes to the importance of human health,” said Saleh Daulay, from the MUI.

“Islam allows its followers to use forbidden substances in emergency situations.”

He added that as long as there were no alternatives to the IPV and OPV vaccines in their current form, then it was allowed for Muslims to be immunized with the existing vaccines.

Of Indonesia’s 237 million people, 30 percent, or 71 million, are under the age of 18 and eligible for immunizations under the Health Ministry’s program.

As of this month, the country has immunized 90 percent of minors against measles.

However, the country is still in the top 10 worldwide for the fewest number of children below the age of 5 who have never been vaccinated for any disease.

“According to the WHO, approximately 1.4 million children under 5 years old die in Indonesia every year from diseases that could have been prevented by immunization, such as measles or tetanus,” said Dr. Toto Wisnu Hendarto, the chairman of the symposium.

“In addition, Unicef also recorded that 30,000 to 340,000 Indonesian children die every year from measles.”

The 13 mandatory vaccinations include DPT (for diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus); HIB (for haemophilus influenza); PCV (for streptococcal pneumonia); and MMR (for measles, mumps and rubella).

Unesco Takes Note of Indonesia’s Angklung, Grants it Cultural Heritage Title

The Jakarta Globe

Jakarta. Angklung, the traditional West Java musical instrument made from bamboo, has been included in Unesco’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

The instrument was among 46 items from 21 countries inscribed to the list at the Fifth Unesco Inter-Governmental Committee meeting on Intangible Cultural Heritage in Nairobi, Kenya.

The angklung now joins the wayang (the Javanese shadow puppet theater), the kris (the Javanese ceremonial dagger) and batik among the Indonesian representatives in the list.

I Gusti Ngurah Putra, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said the government welcomed the recognition granted by Unesco.

“The reason the angklung was inscribed to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is because it has deep philosophical values for humanity, such as cooperation, respect and social harmony,” he said.

“Because to produce music with angklung requires good cooperation among the angklung players, as no melody can be played by a single player.”

Masanori Nagaoka, the culture program specialist at Unesco’s Jakarta office, said it was hoped the recognition would lead to greater awareness of angklung and its traditions.

“Being recognized by Unesco on the list ensures better visibility for the intangible cultural heritage and raises awareness of its importance, while encouraging dialogue that respects cultural diversity,” he said.

Each angklung is made with two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame.

It plays only one specific note, which is produced by shaking the instrument rapidly from side to side.

During the height of the Sunda Kingdom, when much of Indonesia was still Hindu, it was used to signal prayer times. Later on it was used by the Sundanese to boost morale, and was banned by the Dutch colonial masters.

That effectively relegated it to a children’s toy.

In the 20th century, the angklung was adopted by several other countries, including Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.

These were variations of the original, with the Thai angklung, for instance, using three bamboo tubes instead of two.

In addition to the four items Indonesia now boasts on the list of intangible cultural heritage, the country also has seven sites on Unesco’s list of world heritage sites.

Three of them — the Borobudur monument, the Prambanan temple complex and the Sangiran Early man site, all in Central Java — are on the list of world cultural heritage. The other four — the Komodo, Lorentz and Ujung Kulon national parks, as well as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra — are listed as world natural heritage.

“We’re now working on getting the Acehnese Saman Dance to be recognized as intangible cultural heritage,” Putra said.

“We’re going to work hard to have as much of our culture as possible recognized by Unesco, the main point being to get the rest of the world involved in preserving our culture.”

He said the government also wanted recognition of Indonesian culture to prevent other countries from laying claim to it.

The government earlier this year promoted the angklung by inscribing it on the back of the new Rp 1,000 coin, which was introduced in April