The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The majority of the country's population has suffered depression of some form in the last year, says the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI). IDI chairman Fachmi Idris said Wednesday that the latest survey put out by the country's psychiatrist association showed that 94 percent of the country was suffering from some form of depression.
"This ranges from mild to severe cases of depression," Fachmi told a press conference after a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Bina Graha Presidential Office. Fachmi said that among the symptoms of depression were a tendency to violate rules and norms, apathy, withdrawal and a refusal to work.
He said the research was based on the assumption of health as defined by the law on health, which regards health as encompassing physical, mental and social factors.He also cited the World Health Organization's definition of health as a "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely and absence of disease or infirmity."
Since the economic crisis in 1997, Indonesia has seen an increase in depression rates.The WHO's regional office reports that suicide is on the rise in Indonesia. From 1997 to 1998 there were 34 suicides in Jakarta alone.The suicide rate was 1.6 per 100,000 people in 1997 and 1.8 per 100,000 in 1998, while prior to 1996 the number had been decreasing.
Fachmi said that the high incidence of depression was aggravated by a lack of access to health care for most of the population. He said that people suffering from depression needed constant monitoring by a doctor or psychiatrist and that ideally there would be one doctor for every 250 people, although the whole health care system in the country also needed revamping.
"We need a better system in which the role and function of doctors is revitalized," Fachmi said. He said that Yudhoyono supported the proposal to improve the health care system.
Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said that the government was devising a new health care system that would enlist more that 70 percent of the country's population to take part in a new health insurance scheme. She said that low-quality infrastructure was not the main problem of Indonesia's health care system.
"What matters is not the infrastructure but the patient's mental state and culture. State-run Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital, for example, lacks state-of-the-art equipment but patients line up to get its services," Siti told reporters.