42 year old Dr. Edi graduated as a doctor from the University of Trisakti in Jakarta in 1994 and then went on to specialize in pediatrics. He began working at “Dharmais” soon after he graduated as a pediatrician in 2003, prior to which he worked on the non-infectious children’s wards at Cipto Hospital as a fellow.
Dr. Edi, the father of four sons, is passionate about his work on behalf of children with cancer and was the driving force behind the establishment of the country’s first dedicated children’s cancer ward at “Dharmais” Cancer Hospital in 2005. Prior to this, there was a single ward with five beds surrounded by other wards for adult patients. The walls were bare and there was no differentiation between the ward for the children and the adult wards. Today, the children’s cancer ward at ”Dharmais” has been transformed. With walls brightly decorated with nursery murals, the 15 bed unit offers a welcoming, child friendly environment. There is a computer with games and educational tools as well as a television and DVD player for use by the children to keep them entertained and alert, along with a large playroom with toys and games. Dr Edi has also found volunteers with backgrounds in child psychology to come to the wards daily to spend time with the children, and palliative care workers and psychologists are now an integral part of the small team working to support them.
In a country where doctors are often distant from their patients and where the poor in particular are often left feeling powerless in a system they do not understand, Dr. Edi breaks the mould. He has dedicated himself to ensuring the right of impoverished children with cancer to face their battle with dignity. He takes time to talk to the children and their families, to explain their treatment and prognosis, and often goes beyond his official duties, spending time with families, visiting homes, and sitting with children who are dying. It was Dr. Edi who inspired the establishment of MCK, which began as an informal fundraising initiative to provide funds to ensure that poverty not be a reason for children to be denied the treatment they needed.
Palliative care is almost unheard of in Indonesia and Dr Edi has been a keen advocate of its implementation. As a medical consultant at Rachel House, on the outskirts of Jakarta, a hospice facility that provides palliative care for children from poor backgrounds who would otherwise not have access to this kind of support, Dr. Edi puts his advocacy into practice. Rachel House has recently launched a two year pediatric palliative care training program in cooperation with the Singapore International Foundation. The program will provide training for doctors, nurses and caregivers from Dharmais, IMC and St. Carolus Hospitals in Jakarta.
Dr Edi is a member of the Indonesian Pediatric Association (IDAI) and of their disaster management team. In this capacity, he has crisscrossed the country to provide emergency medical assistance, including in Nabire in Papua following an earthquake there in February 2004, as well as to Aceh after the devastating tsunami in December 2004 that killed 170,000 people, and to Pangandaran following a smaller earthquake and tsunami that took place in July 2006.
When asked what suggestions he has for how people can help, Dr. Edi said: “There are still lots of things to do for the kids. I cannot do it by myself. Help doesn’t have to be related with money. If you don’t have money but you have time, please come to the ward and make them happy. Or tell your friends about the kids in “Dharmais” and maybe they can support these kids. For those who already help, on behalf of the kids I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. May God bless you all”.