A Young Doctor Learns How Hard It Is To Give Health Care To Everyone

The government of Indonesia wants coverage for everyone by 2019. As Dr. Jacklyn Adella is finding out from her stint on a remote island, many challenges lie ahead.
Dr. Jacklyn Adella speaks with the father of a girl being treated for wounds after she was kicked by a horse. Source: Tim Matsui for NPR

It was mid-morning and many chairs beside the outpatient clinic were uncharacteristically vacant.

"I think people waited because of the rain," Dr. Jacklyn Adella says. It was late January, the height of the Indonesian monsoons, and even the relatively arid island of Sumba faced daily downpours.

Adella settled into a small, air-conditioned room at Waitabula's Karitas Hospital as her first patient entered: a 17-year-old, his foot, stitched from a recent motorbike injury, had become infected.

As a nurse squeezed pus from the wound, without anesthetic, the teen writhed. Under-resourced hospitals like Karitas use materials sparingly, including highly regulated painkillers.

Adella gave him two options: have the wound opened and cleaned that afternoon in the operating room (the better choice) or hope antibiotics alone would do the trick. He chose the

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