The right to health is an essential objective in the Indonesian constitution. However, many Indonesians still have poor access to healthcare services. World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 reported that many public health facilities in Indonesia suffer from weak infrastructure and a shortage of healthcare workers like doctors, nurses, and midwives.
The WHO stated that both healthcare infrastructure and human resources in Indonesia is below international standard. There is also a significant gap in healthcare access and support between cities, rural and remote areas. For example, half of the country’s hospitals are located in Java and Bali, where almost 60% of the population resides.
In contrast, only 9% of the total hospitals are located in the eastern part of Indonesia. It’s a typical story that many people living in the eastern Indonesia often travel for days to get medication. The condition was experienced firsthand by Mesty Ariotedjo (30) during her medical intern in a public hospital in Ruteng seven years ago. Ruteng is a remote small town in East Nusa Tenggara.
She says that even though nearly all of the residents are covered by the government’s public health insurance program, the town’s healthcare facilities can’t handle all health problems. Many patients with complex health conditions should be referred to a bigger and more capable hospital in cities like Jakarta, Bali, or Surabaya. Unfortunately, she says, many of these patients died because they have no money to cover the transportation cost. There are other health problems she saw during her times there, like child malnutrition that also needs to be solved.
“These problems make me think about what we can do to help the less fortunate communities, so they get access to optimal health services,” she says.
Mesty discovered that online crowdfunding has emerged as a powerful tool to raise funds for emergency response. So, she decided to bridge donors with patients in need. Crowdfunding in Indonesia is picking up steam and has enormous potential for a big push forward driven by a tech-savvy young population and local culture of gotong royong, which translates to helping each other.
In recent years, the number of crowdfunding platforms in Indonesia has been rapidly growing. Yet, platforms that focus on the healthcare sector are still a few. In September 2015, with the help from her friend, Gigih Septianto, Mesty cofounded an online crowdfunding platform WeCare.id.
Gigih, who has a programming background, acts as CEO, while Mesty focuses on helping in the medical operations. She also harvested the potential of social media to build public awareness of the program. Since then, WeCare.id has hosted over Rp 16 billion donations from more than 5.000 donors to help over 500 patients.
WeCare.id partners up with doctors and hospitals across Indonesia to reach patients in need of their support. These patients tend to be women or their children, and patients with a high probability of recovering. Through the organization’s website, donors then choose on which patient to donate. Donation starts as small as Rp 25,000.
For each fundraising campaign, WeCare.id adds an average of 5% operating costs. The organization also uses the capital to invest more in its tech infrastructure. So far, most of the donations come from grants or CSR.
“We only focus on the health sector because that is the field that I work on and understand. I believe we can have a greater impact if we work on something that we understand,” she says.
Currently, WeCare.id is run by a small team consisting of 13 nonmedical and three medical staffs. However, the platform also opens the opportunity for volunteers to help validate patients. In responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, WeCare.id also gathers donations to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers who treat coronavirus patients.
Recently, the platform was trusted to manage Rp 1 billion donation from a beauty products manufacturer, The Body Shop. WeCare.id maintains transparency by showing updated information on the progress of crowdfunding campaigns. The donor will also get a report of the patient’s medical care progress. In addition, disbursed funds are displayed through the website.
“We strive to be very trustworthy and transparent,” she says.