Authors: Silvia Jultikasari Febrian and Sandya Azzahra*
Indonesia’s Role, Initiatives, and Positive Impact
Indonesia has become a key driver in advancing Southeast Asia through social and health development initiatives. At the ASEAN 2023 meeting, Indonesia is leading important initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life and welfare of people throughout the ASEAN region. Indonesia is offering cooperation to develop education and health infrastructure in remote areas of ASEAN, which are often difficult to access for local communities. Additionally, Indonesia is proposing to improve access to quality health and education services for the public through programs such as the Healthy Indonesia Card and the Smart Indonesia Program. With Indonesia’s leadership in social and health development initiatives in ASEAN 2023, it is expected to have a positive impact on improving the quality of life for ASEAN communities and creating a more stable and prosperous region in the future. This article will discuss in more detail Indonesia’s social and health development initiatives in ASEAN 2023, as well as their specific benefits for the ASEAN community.
One important initiative led by Indonesia is the development of education and health infrastructure in remote areas of ASEAN. This is crucial because remote areas are often difficult to access for local communities and lack adequate access to quality health and education services. For example, according to WHO data in 2020, Indonesia only had 0.2 doctors per 1,000 population in remote areas, compared to the national average of 0.5 doctors per 1,000 population.
Therefore, Indonesia is proposing to improve access to quality health and education services for the public through programs such as the Healthy Indonesia Card and the Smart Indonesia Program. The Healthy Indonesia Card is a program that provides free access to health services for poor and vulnerable families in Indonesia, while the Smart Indonesia Program is an education assistance program for children from low-income families
Indonesia not only offers its cooperation in the development of education and health infrastructure to other ASEAN countries, but it is also committed to building 100 health centers and 100 schools in those nations by 2025. As a leader in social and health development initiatives, Indonesia’s efforts are expected to positively impact the quality of life of the ASEAN communities. By enhancing access to quality education and health services, it is hoped that social disparities will be reduced and the community will be better equipped to confront future challenges such as climate change and global health crises. The benefits of this endeavor will not only be limited to Indonesia but will also reverberate throughout the entire ASEAN region.
The data shows that Indonesia’s efforts to improve social and health development in ASEAN have yielded positive results. According to World Bank data, the poverty rate in Indonesia decreased from 10.9% in 2018 to 9.7% in 2020. In addition, Indonesia’s Human Development Index (HDI) also increased from 0.697 in 2015 to 0.718 in 2020. Indonesia’s leadership in social and health development initiatives in ASEAN 2023 is crucial in creating a more stable and prosperous region in the future.
Challenges and Solutions
Indonesia, as one of the ASEAN member countries, plays an important role in leading the initiative for social and health development in the region in 2023. However, Indonesia faces various challenges that need to be overcome to achieve this goal successfully. Some of the challenges that Indonesia faces in leading the initiative for social and health development in ASEAN 2023 include:
First, the difference in the level of development among ASEAN member countries. ASEAN countries have significant differences in terms of economic development, as well as social and health development. This can complicate Indonesia’s efforts in leading the initiative for social and health development in ASEAN because Indonesia must accommodate the interests and needs of other member countries.
Second, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on social and health development worldwide, including in ASEAN. Indonesia, as a country with a high number of COVID-19 cases, must handle this pandemic well to continue social and health development efforts in ASEAN.
Third, limited budget for social and health development. Although Indonesia has the largest economy in ASEAN, the budget for social and health development is still limited. This can complicate Indonesia’s efforts in leading the initiative for social and health development in ASEAN because Indonesia must allocate its limited budget effectively to achieve this goal.
Fourth, the issue of government social aid that misses the target. This is a complex problem that has long been a concern for many parties. Factors that cause government social aid to miss the target include the government’s limited data on the number and conditions of people in the region, making it difficult to determine the target recipients, and rampant abuses of power by those responsible for distributing social aid. This issue needs attention from Indonesia in leading the initiative for social and health development in ASEAN 2023.
Fifth, the coordination among member countries still needs improvement. Good coordination among member countries is essential in leading the initiative for social and health development in ASEAN. However, coordination among member countries still needs improvement to ensure that social and health development efforts can progress smoothly.
To overcome the challenges that Indonesia faces in leading social and health development initiatives in ASEAN, there are several ways in which the country can take action :
First, Indonesia must try to accommodate the interests and needs of other member countries and ensure that work programs will be carried out in an inclusive manner by taking into account the level of development among ASEAN countries, including countries that are still in the development stage. Indonesia must ensure that these programs are accessible to all ASEAN member countries so as to enhance positive cooperation between these countries.
Second, Indonesia needs to continue to strengthen efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic by providing assistance and support to ASEAN member countries in terms of handling the impact of COVID-19 by providing assistance in the form of human resources and in the form of materials. In achieving these goals, active participation from all ASEAN member countries is required so that the goals can be implemented efficiently.
Third, with the minimal state budget for social security in the health and education sectors, Indonesia needs to optimize the best use of the budget. Indonesia must plan budget allocations carefully and ensure that the budget is used effectively and efficiently.
Fourth, in an effort to eradicate the inaccuracy of social assistance targets in Indonesia, the Indonesian government needs to improve the accuracy of data on targeting people who need social assistance and carry out careful and strict supervision of the parties responsible for distributing social assistance, so that corrupt practices and nepotism does not happen.
Fifth, Indonesia’s role in efforts to improve coordination between ASEAN countries can be started by starting to play an active role in facilitating coordination between countries, both in terms of social development, health, and education. This can be done through high-level meetings, regional forums, as well as exchange of visits and experiences between ASEAN countries.
Perspective of International Relations Student
The writer, a student of International Relations, believes that Indonesia has a great responsibility to lead the social and health development initiatives in ASEAN. From an International Relations perspective, this is seen as an opportunity for Indonesia to enhance its role in ASEAN and strengthen its relationships with its member countries. However, the writer also suggests that Indonesia should not pursue this initiative unilaterally, but rather work collaboratively with other ASEAN member countries to develop effective and sustainable programs that meet the needs and expectations of the ASEAN community.
The writer’s main criticism of the ASEAN 2023 social and health development initiative is the lack of transparency and accountability in budget allocation. Therefore, the writer suggests that Indonesia must ensure that the funds used for the programs are utilized effectively and efficiently, and their results are measured transparently.
The writer’s recommendation for Indonesia is to increase cooperation with relevant stakeholders, such as NGOs and the private sector, in building social and health development programs in ASEAN. Additionally, the writer suggests that Indonesia must involve the community more in the development and implementation of these programs to ensure that the results are more relevant to the needs of the people.
Perspective of Social Development and Welfare Student
Looking at it from the perspective of social development and welfare, Indonesia needs to take steps to lead the way in social and health development in the ASEAN region. While some efforts have been made, practical experience has shown that various social development problems still persist in Indonesia, These problems include Inequality in access to public health and education due to geographical, economic, and socio-cultural factors, a lack of government data regarding the number and condition of people who need assistance, as well as rampant practices of corruption and nepotism by those responsible for distributing social assistance.
To overcome these problems, integrated efforts from all parties are needed. The Indonesian government needs to increase investment in the health and education sectors as well as increase public awareness about the importance of obtaining quality health and education services. In addition, it requires active community involvement and community commitment to various health and education social assistance services provided by the government so that the nation’s goal of creating inclusive social, health, and educational development for all levels of society and creating prosperity for all Indonesian people can be realized.
*Sandya Azzahra is a social development and welfare undergraduate student batch of 2022 at Gadjah Mada University