doctorSHARE travels to Indonesia’s remote eastern islands to provide medical services. It recently assisted communities affected by the natural disasters in Lombok and Palu.

One of Papuan thanked to doctor who cured them from disease. doctorSHARE has been travelling across archipelago to help people get accessible healthcare. Photo courtesy of doctorSHARE/NOW!JAKARTA

Dr. Lie Dharmawan, a surgeon founded doctorSHARE, a non-profit organisation focusing on health services and humanitarian assistance in 2009. The organisation focuses on the remote islands, especially eastern Indonesia, and provides medical services to local people. There are programmes for general treatment and as well as a centre in Kei island, Maluku.

One night, after he delivered free medical services, he was approached by a young mother and her critically ill nine-year-old daughter. To meet Dr. Lie, they had travelled by boat for three days. The girl was diagnosed with hernia and intestinal clamping which need surgical treatment immediately. The intestine had to be saved within eight to nine hours. Fortunately, he was able to operate and she was saved.

When he returned to Jakarta, Dr. Lie began to think of a solution to similar cases. With Indonesia’s large size, accessibility is a challenge. The national healthcare service, BPJS, does not cover  transportation charges.

medical checking before goiter surgery for Papuan.
Patient examination for Papuan at Medical Center. 

He then thought of a plan, that many may have considered crazy. He used all his savings, his monthly salary, and sold his house to buy a cement transport vessel named Selebes Jaya. The wooden phinisi sailed from Palembang to Jakarta to be renovated into a simple hospital and it was the first private floating hospital in Indonesia initiated by doctorSHARE which provides medical services including major and minor surgery, obstetrical examinations, general medical and health counseling.

Dr. Lie Dharmawan’s floating hospital provided its first medical services in 2013 in Jayapura, Papua. The phinisi has continued to sail travelling from one medical service place to another with stop overs in few regencies in Papua, Banda Neira, Aru Islands and North Maluku province.

What Dr. Lie did was a truly courageous experiment, based on faith. The programme brings benefits to people in remote areas with minimum infrastructure.

The floating hospital.

Special attention came from a foundation willing to provide an iron ship that was bigger than the first one. doctorSHARE got the chance to use it for its floating hospital programmes. The ship finally was modified into a floating hospital named RSA Nusa Waluya I which provided its first medical services in Jambi in 2015.

doctorSHARE continues to generate ideas. In the same year, during a stop at Tambrauw, West Papua, there were patients who had walked over 12 hours from their home in the mountains. Since then, doctorSHARE came up with new programme called Flying Doctors for people in the mountains of Papua. Pilots fly a medical team which consists six to seven doctors.

Again, help arrived. A businessman donated a ship to be used as a floating hospital after he saw the work of doctorSHARE on a television show. That businessman donated a barge  to be renovated into a floating hospital. It took years for renovation, but this third floating hospital that owned by doctorSHARE called RSA Nusa Waluya II entered service this year.

This barge is not machined, can move with its own power, doesn’t require a large crew, and is fuel efficient. Other advantages are more stable, so that doctors can perform difficult surgery on board, such as laparoscopy, tympanoplasty, and cataract surgery.

doctorSHARE also built a tuberculosis clinic for people around lake Sentani, Papua that aims to reduce the number of tuberculosis patients. Medical staff and local health cadres collaborate in this programme. As a first step, doctorSHARE already holds trainings for medical personnel and health cadres there.

doctorSHARE also hold sosialisation in school to be more aware with self health. 

Stunting cases in Kei island also grabbed the organisation’s attention. The clinic and various programmes were established, pregnant mothers were invited to join the programme and were given information and knowledge about nutrition for children, hygiene, sanitation.

With many social activities and good relationships with people, Dr. Lie manages the organisation very well, including preparing the team for emergencies or disasters, such as the crisis in Lombok and Palu. doctorSHARE sent its best team to help the victims and also involved the floating hospitals. Its third floating hospital, RSA Nusa Waluya II which was anchored in Maluku was moved to Palu as a medical rehabilitation support.

“doctorSHARE wants to create a model solution where the main aim is finding a long-term solution to of health care,” Said Julia Windasari Tan, from doctorSHARE’s Relationship & Development team.


This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine December 2018 issue“Festive Issue”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.

Sari Widiati

Sari Widiati

Sari has been an arts and culture enthusiast for many years. She has written extensively on the arts, travel, and social issues as Features Writer at NOW! Jakarta.