Hundreds of Indonesian doctors and nurses on Monday urged lawmakers to halt discussions on proposed revisions to healthcare laws that they said would dilute protections for medical practitioners.

Indonesia's parliament in February tabled a host of revisions to current healthcare laws, including making it easier for patients to bring criminal charges against healthcare workers for malpractice and allowing foreign talent to make up for staff shortages in the Southeast Asian country.

The government has said the revisions are necessary to streamline the current laws. A health ministry spokesperson, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said the new law aims to improve services in the middle-income country.

But at least five unions have raised concerns, arguing health workers could be disadvantaged.

"Our fears are about legal certainty and protection," said Indonesia Medical Association chief, Mohammad Adib Khumaidi, who joined the protest outside parliament on Monday.

Head of the dentists' association, Usman Sumantri, questioned whether standards were in place to ensure that foreign doctors would improve the level of care in Indonesia, which already struggles with a shortage of health workers, especially specialists.

"We need to consider whether this could negatively impact Indonesian workers" he said.

It is unclear when parliament will finalise the law.


(Reporting by Ananda Teresia; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)