Balinese Angered at Having to Pay for ‘Free’ Rabies Jab

DENPASAR

Balinese and foreign residents have said they are angry that the government’s promise of a free rabies vaccine has fallen flat because they have to pay for the injection.

Varying degrees of charges are imposed on those who receive the inoculation after being bitten by dogs, The Bali Times has found. Sixty-five people have died from rabies since the disease was identified in the southernmost Ungasan area in late 2008.

The head of the rabies team at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar, Dr Ken Wirasandhi, told The Bali Times last month that there was no charge for the vaccination, including administration fees and other items.

However, people who were vaccinated at Bali’s central hospital in recent days told a different story.

Putu Pirad, 35, told The Bali Times that his two-year-old niece was bitten by a stray dog, and as a precautionary measure he took her to Sanglah for vaccination.

“My bill only said ‘rabies.’ I don’t know what I’m paying for,” he said, adding that he had thought the jab would be free but he ended up paying Rp67,000 (US$7.40).

Pirad said he remembered that Governor I Made Mangku Pastika had said the rabies vaccination would be free at every hospital in Bali.

“Is the vaccine free or not?” he said.

Also questioning the scheme was Wayan Darta, 42, whose 7-year-old son was bitten by a dog and vaccinated at Sanglah on Monday last week. “My bill said it was for a ‘service fee,’” he said.

Darta said he had health insurance and therefore paid a lower Rp21,300. But, he said, his mother was vaccinated for rabies last year and did not pay anything, including a service fee.

A Bali Times reader, Jo Rachman, commented at the newspaper’s website that she also had to pay for the vaccine.

“I went to Sanglah after being bitten by a dog, and had two injections. When I was walking out to my car I was chased and told I hadn’t paid. I had thought it was free, and was told yes it is, but I had to pay for ‘administration.’ If you have to pay an administration fee, that is not ‘free.’”

A spokesman for Sanglah, Dr Igma Putra, told The Bali Times that while the vaccine itself is free the hospital must charge for equipment used, including syringes.

“Only the vaccine is free, from the government,” he said, adding that the hospital also incurred costs in sterilising equipment and it began charging three months ago.

Filed under: Headlines

3 Responses to “Balinese Angered at Having to Pay for ‘Free’ Rabies Jab”

  1. Jens Says:

    So now the people who can not afford the vaccine will not go to the hospital if bitten. More deaths are likely to result from this. What a joke!!

  2. Rob Aldred Says:

    I too was bitten in Tabanan on Ogo-Ogo this year. No serum in Tabanan public hospital. Went to Denpasar – did pay for the shots. Went to Tabanan hospital for 3rd and 4th shot – no serum. Referred to private hospital and paid. My Balinese friends said the serum was “black marketed” from public hospital to private hospital. I can afford it, but the Balinese cannot. Truly a shame!

  3. Bev Williams Says:

    I also understood the Rabies vaccinations to be free.
    Had my 1st 2 shots at Kasih Ibu, cost me 500,000, & the last 2 shots I had at Prima Medika, 1 cost 198.00 & 4th one cost 203,000.
    I agree with Jen, how can the local people afford pay these sort of prices.

1