Interview with Dr. S. Gozali
by Jaclyn Cruz Coleman
Tuesday 4 December 2018
for What’s New Indonesia

When I walk into the waiting room at Dr. Gozali’s practice, I am awe-struck by the wall of long, handwritten thank you letters and cards and photos from mothers who have delivered their babies with Dr. Gozali.

“Thank you does not seem sufficient” writes one. Another, “We want to express our heartfelt thanks for the wonderful level of care you provided us…” A myriad of cards have words about Dr. Gozali’s calm bedside manner, his professionalism, the confidence he gave women and how his presence put families, especially those from abroad, at ease.

Dr. Gozali is a British-qualified Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OBGYN). Dr. Gozali is widely recommended by expatriate and Indonesian women who have experienced his care during their pregnancies and in birthing and by numerous foreign embassies’ medical practitioners in Jakarta. Unlike many OBGYN’s practicing in Jakarta, Dr. Gozali is known for performing caesarian section only with medical indication.

I sat down to talk to Dr. Gozali in his consultation office.

Women from America, Australia and other places desire optimal births including vaginal births. People see working with you as giving them that opportunity [in Jakarta]. The expatriate and Indonesian women I know who have used your medical services have nothing but wonderful things to say. Tell me about yourself. Where you are from? Why did you return to Indonesia?

Gozali: I am Indonesian – Indonesian Chinese. I was born in Kalimantan. I went to London for my A-levels followed by my medical degree at UCH (University College London formerly University College Hospital). Following my medical degree I went on to do my postgraduate work. Then, I worked with the NHS for over 20 years before coming back to Indonesia. My total time in the UK was 30 years. I came back for the usual reasons. My parents. They want me to be close by and I think I owe them.

When I returned I thought the system in Indonesia would be the same as Singapore and the UK but it turned out that it is not necessarily the same. It was a bit of a shock. On the work side. Settling in was also not what I expected. The way they do things medically is different. Before I was allowed to start working here I had to go through their trainee program and that is one-year but you must gradually move up the ladder and sit for a specialist exam, again. [Dr. Gozali returned to Indonesia in 2008].

When you returned did you have in mind an opportunity to change what was happening [medically/in the field of obstetrics] or did that come later; once you saw how the system was functioning.

Gozali: In this country the medical services are…different. It is difficult as one person to change that. I always wanted to change the medical scene in this country. Some doctors are keen on caesarian-section and the caesarian-section rate is high. It is doctors. It is not the hospital. And, it’s the culture of this country.

Is it the wish of the patients or the doctors? Or both?

Gozali: Both. There are a lot of women asking for caesarian-section. They hear from their friends that have had elective caesarian-section and say it is a so-called “good” experience. And doctors don’t discourage them or help them understand the risks.

My understanding is that when there are more interventions; there are more risks.

Gozali: Absolutely. Yes.

Why did you choose obstetrics as your specialty?

Gozali: Obstetrics is very rewarding. Delivering babies is a very happy occasion. It is not like dealing with chronic illness. It is a very joyful, rewarding job really. Some of it can be challenging. Some women go through a lot of difficult times but it is nice to be able to help them through those times and at the end of it you are there at the magical moment when they give birth to the baby.

How long after moving to Indonesia did you start your own practice? Were you attached to other practices before?

Gozali: I worked in other practices and in other hospitals but your hands are tied. You cannot do what you like. You don’t get to buy the instrument you know is the best medical instrument. It makes a lot of difference to get a better diagnostic outcome. What I have here [in his consulting roomis a top of the line ultrasound machine …the other practices don’t buy these things for you.

And that probably is part of why your services are so trusted by the foreign embassies’ medical practitioners…?

Gozali: Yes, and UNICEF and the government institutions.

With all these people being sent to you how do you manage the patient numbers?

Gozali: It works out fine. Most of my patients tend to be expatriates and there is a fairly consistent number of them here. They usually find me by word of mouth. The locals may find me to be not the right doctor for them. They go to the doctor and want this medication and that…I don’t give unnecessary medicine or vitamins and they get disappointed.

Finally, is there any advice you would give to expatriate women who arrive pregnant to or become pregnant while living in Jakarta?

Gozali: Find the right doctor. You can find the wrong doctor even in Singapore. The way to do this is to ask questions. If you feel comfortable that he has answered your questions and you are comfortable with the answers; that’s the right doctor. By all means, seek a second, third or fourth opinion. I never mind when patients are doctor shopping as long as in the end they are happy. It is important that they have a doctor they can trust for that important, magical moment in their lives.

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