Hospitals, pharmacies and emergencies

Where to go when health problems arise

Hospitals, pharmacies and emergencies

The quality and availability of health care facilities varies drastically from rural to urban areas, so familiarise yourself with your nearest medical centres, and with the services they provide.

Indonesian hospitals

Indonesia’s hospitals are state-owned, privately-owned, or run by military or non-governmental organisations. Only 5 of the country’s 1,800 hospitals have been internationally accredited  and you may find that most doctors and nurses don’t speak English. Payments may be asked for in total and in cash, and according to WHO, there is little to no regulation of pricing, so health insurance is an absolute must.

Health care centres can vary from rural village clinics, where general care is available, to the public hospitals and specialised private practices of the larger cities. It’s worth contacting your embassy for official advice on where to go. If you would feel more comfortable in an international environment, where doctors and nurses speak English, there are some international clinics available, such as:

They may be more expensive, but will be more suited to the needs of an unwell expat. Many foreign residents also tend to travel abroad for more serious medical issues, particularly to Singapore and Australia, so you may decide to look into health coverage in these countries too.

Pharmacies in Indonesia

The more rural clinics will usually have their own pharmacy, though these will obviously have a more limited supply than the chemists in the main cities. Pharmacy chains can be found in large shopping areas, and some hospitals and clinics will have their own, although prescriptions are usually needed there. Some pharmacies (apotik) may be open 24-hour in the most urban areas. It is worth writing down exactly what you’re after, to prevent language-barrier difficulties, and you may find that drugs that are readily-available in your home country are less so in Indonesia, and vice versa.


Illnesses which are not usually that serious at home are more likely to develop into emergencies if adequate care is not as readily available, as is the case in more rural areas of Indonesia for example. It’s therefore important to make sure you are both informed and insured when it comes to emergency situations.

Emergency ambulance number: 118.

However, the emergency service is not likely to be of the same standard as in your home country, and it may be worth investigating private services or checking whether your hospital has its own ambulance service, which will have its own phone number. Traffic provides a hindrance in the urban areas, whilst emergency service coverage in rural areas is not readily available. 

In extreme cases, medical evacuation or repatriation may be needed, when the medical assistance available in Indonesia is not adequate. Again, to reiterate the importance of insurance, uninsured patients who require evacuation have to fund it up front, which would make for a very expensive flight. If a situation requiring evacuation occurs, the process will vary slightly depending on your insurance and hospital, but it is in general a procedure that requires a great deal of organisation, approvals and specialised staff and equipment.

Further reading

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