Hospitals are at the front-line of disaster response. They treat the injured, care for families and help train communities to provide basic health care for victims. But the experience of many hospitals in Indonesia is not so positive.
As Pak Muhammadong, the Disaster Management Coordinator at the Health Department in Makassar states, “learning from my experiences, I find that when disaster strikes, many hospitals collapse and health services don’t operate effectively. It’s the biggest barrier we face during an emergency or disaster, people panic and crowd the hospital which makes the situation even worse”.
To help address this issue, the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction (AIFDR) is supporting the Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Centre – in partnership with Indonesia’s Ministry of Health, Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), and the Medical School for Emergency Medicine at the University of Brawijaya in Surabaya – to strengthen the capacity of Muhammadiyah hospitals in Makassar in South Sulawesi, and in Malang and Gresik in East Java to respond effectively to large-scale natural disasters.
At a recent training event, held at BNPB’s Indonesia Disaster Relief Training Ground (InaDRTG), Muhammadiyah brought together over 40 health and disaster management specialists who will help train health professionals and communities in these areas to: ensure selected hospitals have deployable teams that are well trained and skilled in disaster medical management and emergency response; to improve standard operating procedures (SOPs) and ambulance services; and to improve and support community-based health service delivery during an emergency and disaster situation.
As Pak Agus Ardiansyah from East Java’s provincial disaster management agency said, “lack of coordination, that’s what currently makes our emergency response not as efficient as it should be. What we need is joint SOPs that are used by health teams, the BPBD and communities. This is an important part in managing disaster efficiently in the health environment. We are grateful to Muhammadiyah for doing this training so hospitals, disaster management officials and communities will use the same SOPs in the future”
The pilot program also aims to establish and strengthen the coordination and networks with local disaster management agencies (BPBDs), health agencies and other stakeholders such as the Indonesian Red Cross, NGOs and the private sector; and document all processes and lessons learned to be able to replicate to other provinces and districts across Indonesia.
Ibu Nurmila, a Doctor and Lecturer at the University of Muhammadiyah Medical School in Makassar was excited to be part of the training. “I’ve been working for years as doctor and lecturer and this is my first experience dealing with disaster management. I will go back to my hometown and share the knowledge I have learned here with my colleagues, the health team in the hospital and of course my students. We have just had the idea to create a forum of students and lecturers in the medical school to discuss what we need to do to ensure that hospitals are better prepared for a disaster”.
Another participant, Pak Fatchur Rahman, the Head of the General Section at the Muhammadiyah Hospital in Gresik said that he and his colleagues from Makassar and Malang were happy to be invited to learn together. “We need a better system and I believe that this activity will be the start of a new movement of disaster preparedness for hospitals”.
What can be said is that Muhammadiyah’s Hospital Preparedness and Community Readiness for Emergency and Disaster (HPCRED) is restoring hope.