Ramadan Fasting and Evidence Based Medicine

In fiqh or Islamic law, fasting during the month of Ramadan is an obligation for Muslims as it is stated in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 183, which was revealed over 1400 years ago in the second year of Hijriah. Thus, for 14 centuries Muslims have carried out the obligation to fast in Ramadan. However, fasting as a culture is much older than Islam itself. Several highly civilized ancient nations, such as the Romans, Egyptians or Chinese, had the habit of fasting for various purposes, including as a form of cultural ritual or belief. During the 20th century,  medical and health scientists conducted numerous studies that demonstrated the health benefits of fasting.  These medical studies contributed to the development of Evidence Based Medicine (EBM).

Ramadan Fasting. Blessing and Health

Muslims around the world are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan with gratitude to Allah SWT. Even though the status of the Covid-19 pandemic has not been officially declared over, the situation is getting better. This time, we are allowed to perform tarawih prayers in congregation, tadarus and iktikaf at the mosque, and are no longer obliged to wear masks. The coverage of the first booster vaccination has reached around 75%, the second booster is around 68%, and approximately three million people having received the third, so it is much safer because herd immunity has been achieved. These are all the blessing of Allah SWT for which we Muslims are grateful. Fasting during Ramadan is an obligation for Muslims, as stated in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 183: "O you who have believed, fasting is prescribed upon you, as it was prescribed upon those before you, so that you may be pious".

Joint Healthcare Provision to Patch Up BPJS Shortfall

The government must rearrange its regulations properly with an aim of preventing the tendency of insurance companies to implement adverse selection. Some time ago, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin raised the idea of a special health insurance package for the wealthy provided by the Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan). The idea duly drew pros and cons. The suggested special BPJS health insurance for the wealthy is a package that, as expected, involves private insurers providing joint medical coverage. Kompas has published at least four opinion articles responding to the Health Minister's idea, which he put forward during a work meeting with the House of Representatives (DPR) at the end of 2022.

Promoting Precision Medicine

Precision medicine will enable each patient to receive more sensitive screening, more precise diagnoses, and more effective medical treatment. Not long ago, Deputy Health Minister Dante Saksono Harbuwono said precision medicine was a necessity for future health services. Precision medicine will enable each patient to receive more sensitive screening, more precise diagnoses, and more effective medical treatment. This was conveyed by Dante in his inaugural speech as Professor of Internal Medicine at the School of Medicine, University of Indonesia (Kompas, 23/8/2022).

A Hybrid University-Hospital Based Medical Education to Overcome Scarcity of Specialists

Budi Gunawan Sadikin, Minister of Health, made a startling statement at the end of 2022: we are experiencing a shortage of specialist doctors. The number of specialist doctors available is insufficient to meet national demands. Furthermore, the distribution of specialist doctors is uneven, with the majority concentrated in major cities. We require the deployment of thousands of specialist doctors to small towns, areas outside of Java, as well as remote and underdeveloped areas. According to the Minister, one regional public hospital requires at least seven specialist doctors. According to WHO eligibility standards, Indonesia requires at least one doctor for every 1,000 people, or 1 : 1,000. Indonesia, with a population of approximately 275 million people, requires approximately 275,000 doctors.