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Accelerating Health Digital Transformation in Indonesia

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Associate Professor of Public Health at Monash University Indonesia, Grace Wangge, stated that the satellite internet constellation’s presence in Indonesia has the potential to accelerate digital transformation in the health sector, particularly in disease monitoring. According to Grace, with wider and faster internet access reaching the level of community health centres (Puskesmas), data related to disease case trends can be obtained more quickly through real-time reporting.

For instance, in remote areas of Kalimantan, health workers have to take a half-day boat trip to the district capital to synchronise stunting data (EPPBGM) due to the lack of internet access. This, of course, slows down the process of allocating the needed interventions. Grace explained that fast and widespread internet access also allows for integrated health monitoring. Disease monitoring data is actually connected with other data, such as weather monitoring data from the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG). The DKI Jakarta Provincial Government and BMKG have previously collaborated to monitor weather data trends to see their impact on mosquito population growth.

The integration of various data sources enables a comprehensive understanding of health trends and the factors influencing them. For instance, during the rainy season, an increase in mosquito populations can lead to higher instances of diseases such as dengue fever. By correlating health data with weather patterns, health authorities can anticipate outbreaks and implement preventive measures more effectively.

Grace encourages coordination and data integration between institutions to better handle epidemic anticipation efforts. This coordinated approach ensures that health data from remote and urban areas are harmonised, providing a clearer picture of the nation’s health landscape. “Inter-agency collaboration and data sharing are crucial for effective disease prevention and control,” Grace emphasised.

Meanwhile, Arif Perdana, a researcher at the Data & Democracy Research Hub, stated that the satellite internet constellation has great potential that must be well-managed and overseen by the government to ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

This year, the government is building a National Data Centre in Cikarang, West Java, which is predicted to be completed by October 2024. The satellite internet constellation’s presence in Indonesia is said to assist the government in data synchronisation efforts, especially health data.

The integration of the satellite internet constellation with the National Data Centre represents a significant leap forward in the nation’s digital infrastructure. This integration will improve data accessibility and reliability and enhance the overall efficiency of public health monitoring systems.

Moreover, Ika Idris, Co-director of the Data & Democracy Research Hub, said that cooperation between the private sector and the government in providing public services must focus on public interest, including improving health services. Ika mentioned that one of the main issues in the implementation of public services is sufficient digital capability and awareness of upholding digital ethics in maintaining public privacy.

With a focus on digital literacy, the satellite internet constellation’s presence in Indonesia will not only accelerate digital transformation in the health sector but also increase public awareness and digital capabilities. Ensuring that healthcare workers and the general public are equipped with the necessary digital skills is vital for the effective utilisation of new technologies. Training programmes and educational initiatives can help build a digitally literate population capable of leveraging technology for better health outcomes.

The introduction of the satellite internet constellation in Indonesia marks a significant milestone in the country’s digital transformation journey, particularly in the health sector. By providing fast and reliable internet access to even the most remote areas, the satellite internet constellation can facilitate real-time disease monitoring, enhance data integration, and improve decision-making processes.

“With a strong emphasis on digital literacy and ethical data management, this initiative has the potential to revolutionise public health services, ensuring that technological advancements benefit all segments of the population while safeguarding their privacy,” Ika concludes.

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