Dozens of motorcycle taxi drivers in the West Sumatra capital of Padang stormed a hospital in the city yesterday in order to obtain the body of a six-month-old baby allegedly held in the morgue over unpaid bills. The incident was the latest of many scandals in Indonesia over the years that highlighted an apparent lack of compassion by hospitals for those who can’t afford to pay their bills.
A video showing motorcycle taxi drivers running out of M Djamil General Hospital after having obtained the body of a six-month-old baby named Alif has gone viral since yesterday. Alif, who was the only son of a motorcycle taxi driver, was reportedly treated at the hospital for lymphoma for five days before he passed away Tuesday morning.
By Tuesday afternoon, the hospital hadn’t released Alif’s body to his family because the family wasn’t able to pay the IDR24 million (US$1,702) hospital bills to cover Alif’s treatment. In Islam, it’s customary to bury the body of the deceased soon — generally on the same day — after their passing.
Alif’s father’s colleagues then stormed the hospital’s morgue to take the body, and the baby’s funeral was carried out that afternoon.
The hospital later apologized after the video went viral, but said that the incident was caused by a misunderstanding.
“It was actually a communication error between us and [the parents]. At the time, we actually asked the parents to finalize some administrative requirements,” M Djamil General Hospital Director Yusirwan Yusuf told Kompas, adding that the requirements were for Alif’s family to be eligible for financial aid.
“We apologize to the people of West Sumatra and hopefully this won’t happen again.”
Padang Mayor Mahyeldi Ansharullah has allocated money from the region’s religious alms fund to pay for Alif’s hospital bills.