Australia Awards in Indonesia

The Australia Awards are prestigious, transformational scholarships and short courses offered to emerging leaders for study, research and professional development in Australia

28 Mar 2024

Makhyan Jibril Al Farabi: Collaborative Works of Australian Alumni in Reducing Healthcare Disparities in Papua

Renowned for his outspoken and critical stance on Indonesian healthcare, Dr Makhyan Jibril Al Farabi emerges as a key figure in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in East Java. Handpicked by Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa, he spearheads the Data Management Team within the East Java COVID-19 task force. Leveraging his expertise as a Chevening alumnus, graduating from healthcare entrepreneurship from UCL London, Makhyan has steered his team in deploying digital innovations, notably developing a web-based COVID-19 self-assessment system.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the significance of digital health in facilitating connections between connecting health workers and patients,” noted Makhyan, reflecting on the crises. “This experience has motivated me to deepen my understanding of digital health services.”

In 2022, he participated in the Australia Awards Short Course on Digital Technologies in the Healthcare Sector (including Telehealth) at the University of Queensland, which he viewed as a valuable experience.

“I viewed the Short Course as an opportunity to further my knowledge of digital health and contribute to the development of a sustainable digital healthcare system," he added.

Collaborative Efforts of Australian Alumni

Makhyan expressed his satisfaction in building relationships with key decision-makers in the Indonesian health sector during the Short Course.

“I had the opportunity to connect with a diverse group of participants from various backgrounds. Despite differences in our job positions, we freely engaged in learning together,” he said.

Evidence of camaraderie among the course participants is exemplified in the collaboration between Dr Makhyan and Dr Adi Kurniawan, Head of Medical Services at the Jayapura Health Office. Their partnership was catalysed by Adi’s poignant accounts of healthcare disparities in Papua.

Adi vividly depicted the challenges faced by Papuans, highlighting the stark contrast between Java’s discourse-heavy environment and Papua’s reality of arduous journeys to reach healthcare facilities, compounded by limited internet access.

"Recognising the healthcare disparities in Papua compared to Java has spurred me into action to help bridge this gap,” asserted Makhyan, a cardiologist and Health Transformation Technical Communication Staff at the Ministry of Health.

Five months after completing the course, Makhyan, recently inaugurated as a cardiology specialist at Airlangga University, embarked on a journey to Papua to conduct a training session on 27-28 July 2023.

The training, a collaborative effort between Makhyan, Adi, and the Jayapura Health Office, drew approximately 50 healthcare professionals from 22 community health centres (Puskesmas) in Jayapura, as well as Yowari Regional General Hospital.

"In the initial session, we provided education to participants on telemedicine and digital health, focusing on how the utilisation of telemedicine applications developed by the Ministry of Health, such as 'Konsultasi Medis Online' (KOMEN) and 'Telemedicine Indonesia' (TEMENIN)."

Midwives in Jayapura also received training on utilising a web-based application called ‘Buaian’, developed by the East Java Provincial Government. This tool serves as an antenatal screening instrument to identify risk factors for pregnant women.

"Buaian enables midwives to assess risk factors for pregnant mothers, allowing them to determine whether it is safe to manage patients independently or if immediate hospital referral is necessary,” explained Makhyan, expressing concern over the alarming rate of maternal mortalities in Papua. According to Statistics Indonesia, Papua had the highest maternal mortality rate in 2020, with 565 deaths.

Subsequent sessions of the training covered major adverse cardiac events, including heart failure, arrhythmia, stroke, and cardiac arrest.

“Cardiovascular-related diseases in Jayapura still pose a significant risk of mortality, often due to late detection,” noted Makhyan. “We aim to mitigate this risk by educating health workers at Puskesmas on early detection using electrocardiograms and appropriate management of patients with heart diseases.”

While acknowledging that digital health transformation in Jayapura is still in its early stages, Makhyan found satisfaction in the training's positive outcome. He observed an enhanced understanding among participants of digital health services and cardiac emergencies, evidenced by the improvement shown in pre- and post-tests.

Furthermore, the two Australian alumni discovered challenges in Papua ‘s healthcare system regarding the transition to Electronic Medical Records (EMR), mandated by the central government through the Minister of Health Regulation Number 24 of 2022 on Medical Records that requires the implementation of the EMR system for healthcare providers.

Using data gathered during the training, Makhyan and Adi are conducting research to address the EMR implementation issues in Papua.

Reflecting on his experience in the Australia Awards short-term scholarship program, Makhyan summarised, "The short course has turned many once-impossible tasks into achievable goals."

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