Remarks by Ambassador Blake at GE Healthcare Innovation Forum, Jakarta

Selamat pagi!  Good morning.  I am honored to have been invited to participate in the opening of this forum along with such distinguished guests and experts in healthcare, especially Terri Bresenham [GE Healthcare President and CEO for Africa, ASEAN, and India] and Ibu Heti Uuliati from the Ministry of Health.

The timing of this forum and its topic could not be more relevant given the rapid growth in demand for healthcare products and services in Indonesia.  I was pleased to see that President Jokowi, in his budget speech last week, announced that funding for health would increase to 5 percent of the total budget, as part of a plan to increase the quality of healthcare, particularly in rural areas.

Investment in the healthcare sector is and should be a top priority, but in Indonesia, healthcare innovation is particularly important due to the unique challenges faced by this incredibly diverse country and its people.

With its 6,000 inhabited islands, a rapidly-growing middle class, and a population with increasing access to health insurance, it is readily apparent that the supply of high-quality healthcare must meet a growing demand from a wide array of customers, both rural and urban, high- and low-income, and with varying levels of access to skilled healthcare service providers.

Finding creative ways to deliver improved health services at the regional level will help the government meet its goal of delivering quality health care across this vast country, thereby contributing to a further reduction in poverty.

GE Healthcare, as sponsor of this forum, is part of a U.S. healthcare industry that strives to bring high-quality products to the Indonesian market and to contribute to the health and well-being of the Indonesian people.

I understand that since 2009, GE’s Healthymagination program has committed an impressive $6 billion to develop 100+ innovations to increase access to quality and affordable healthcare.

One example of an innovation that is particularly useful here in Indonesia is GE’s handheld ultrasound technology.  This product makes it possible for rural healthcare providers to give, and pregnant women to receive, higher quality prenatal healthcare and to earlier identify signs of a high-risk pregnancy.

Indonesia, with maternal and newborn mortality rates significantly higher than those of its Southeast Asian neighbors, will greatly benefit from such innovative devices, increased access to them, and greater educational and capacity building opportunities for Indonesian healthcare professionals.

When discussing healthcare in Indonesia, I must also emphasize that a fair, open, and predictable Indonesian trade and investment environment will support continuing innovation and allow Indonesian consumers access to the newest and best healthcare products and services from around the world at competitive prices.

Further, public-private collaboration is more important than ever as countries seek to deliver their healthcare priorities.  When industry, government, and healthcare providers work together, the opportunities become limitless, whether we are talking about creating and promoting new technologies, improving infrastructure, increasing the skills of medical practitioners, or finding new ways to share knowledge and lessons learned.

With that, I thank you again for inviting me to speak at this important and timely gathering to discuss such a critical issue, and I hope today’s discussions spark even more new ideas, partnerships, and innovations that will benefit the Indonesian people and their access to quality healthcare.

As Prepared.