Singapore - Indonesia Collaboration To Improve Child And Adolescent Psychiatric Services Has Benefitted Over 10,000 People In East Java, Indonesia

During a two-year project in Surabaya, close to 200 healthcare professionals in this field have been equipped with enhanced knowledge and skills to sustainably uplift the mental health of those adversely affected in the community.

Surabaya, Indonesia, 25 April 2018 – As with many parts of Asia, the shortage of mental health specialists in Indonesia, particularly in child and adolescent psychiatry, calls for the provision of quality mental health services for youths. Driven to improve healthcare services in this challenging area, Singaporean and Indonesian mental health professionals had embarked on a two-year healthcare training project in 2016 which successfully concluded today.

The project titled Enhancing Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services is a cross-cultural collaboration by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), Menur Mental Hospital and Dr Radjiman Wediodiningrat Mental Hospital. The multi-disciplinary project sought to enhance child and adolescent psychiatry services in the public health institutions in the East Java province of Indonesia.
Since 2016, a team of Singapore International Volunteers (SIV) comprising senior healthcare professionals have worked closely with their Indonesian counterparts to build the capabilities of mental health professionals in East Java. Other hospitals in the province – Dr Soebandi District Hospital and Gambiran District Hospital – were also involved in the project, boosting its overall impact in the regional community. Taking on a training-of-trainers approach, the project comprised four components – clinical workshops, booster sessions, a study visit to Singapore, and a symposium.
Close to 200 Indonesian trainees have since been equipped with the knowledge and skills to assess, treat and manage child and adolescent patients with emotional and behavioural issues. This included those with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), psychosis and mood disorders. Trainees were also equipped with tools and strategies to communicate effectively with parents and other caregivers, as well as to involve family in their plan of care for the patients. Among the trainees, a core team of 27 “Master Trainers” was identified to cascade train other peers, thereby sustaining the skills transfer during and after completion of the project.
In 2017, the SIF facilitated a four-day study visit to Singapore for 22 participants comprising trainees from participating hospitals and representatives of the East Java Provincial Government (EJPG). Participants visited key mental health institutions in Singapore, including the Institute of Mental Health, Changi General Hospital, Singapore Association for Mental Health and social services organisation AWWA. The study visit also enabled Singaporean and Indonesian healthcare leaders to network and exchange cross-cultural ideas and insights in improving the quality of existing child and adolescent psychiatric care.  
The project culminates today with a symposium and an official closing ceremony graced by Ms Annie Retnowanti, Head of Cooperation Division, Bureau of Public Relations and Protocols of Regional Secretary of the EJPG. Over 120 mental health professionals gathered at the symposium to share their professional knowledge and experiences with the larger Indonesian healthcare communities. The symposium also served as a platform to create greater awareness and better understanding of the principles and practices of child and adolescent psychiatry.
Mr Jaryll Chan, SIF Division Director (Programmes), said: “Healthcare is one of the SIF’s focus areas in our efforts to enrich lives and effect positive change. We are heartened by the encouraging outcomes of the Enhancing Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services project. Its successful conclusion exemplifies the good that can happen when communities come together to collaborate and effect positive change, underpinned by the gotong-royong spirit. We look forward to deepening our friendship through more meaningful collaborations in Indonesia in future.”
Dr Cheryl Loh, SIV Team Leader, and Consultant, Department of Psychological Medicine, Changi General Hospital, said: “The SIV team collectively concur that this project has enabled us to share our knowledge with our Indonesian colleagues and in return, gain valuable cross-cultural experiences we would not have had otherwise. The project has challenged the team to really think through what makes teaching and learning effective in different environments. We are grateful to our Indonesian hosts who have been nothing but enthusiastic, warm and welcoming throughout the collaboration and we look forward to continuing our friendship for many more years ahead.”
Dr Ika Indiyah Prasetyawati, Deputy Director of Medicine and Nursing, Menur Mental Hospital, said: “As the second largest city in Indonesia, Surabaya forms the healthcare hub in Eastern Indonesia which includes Menur Mental Hospital, the only mental hospital under the EJPG. Through this project, we have developed our professional skills in psychiatry, psychology, nursing, and occupational therapy under the training and guidance of the SIVS. As a result, our child and adolescent patients have gained progress in their mental health, social skills and academic achievements. Based on these developments, their families are also encouraged to help promote awareness of mental health within the community. We are pleased with the professionalism of the SIVs and believe that the friendship between Indonesia and Singapore is now stronger thanks to our partnership with the SIF.”
Dr Laurentius Panggabean, Executive Director, Dr Radjiman Wediodiningrat Mental Hospital, said: “We are delighted that our collaboration with SIF has helped us accomplish many milestones in child and adolescent psychiatric services. Its comprehensive training programme will continue to help us achieve the goals of the national healthcare programme ‘Indonesia Sehat’ by the Ministry of Health. Our participants have also gained better understanding and tremendous insights into Singapore’s culture and healthcare practices. We do hope that our warm friendship with SIF will continue to strengthen so that both parties can enrich the lives of more people through better healthcare standards.”
On a global scale, the project contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 3 in ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all ages. It was also built on the success of the SIF’s Community-based Geriatric Psychiatry project (2008-2013) in East Java, as part of the five-year Memorandum of Understanding with the EJPG in 2005. Overall, this year marks the 26th anniversary of the SIF’s efforts in providing meaningful ways for the people of Singapore and Indonesia to come together to enhance mutual understanding and trust through a wide range of collaborations at the people-to-people level.



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