Catatan Dokter dari Belantara Boven Digul [Book Review]

Title: Kisah Nyata: Catatan Dokter dari Belantara Boven Digul
Author: John Manangsang
Content: xx + 301 pages
Year: 1994
Publisher: Yayasan Obor Indonesia

When we were children, most of us wanted to be a doctor. But, some reasons showed being a doctor is more complex than folding paper. This condition also happened with John Manangsang. He is a medical student of FKUI from Papua. After finishing his study, he returned to Papua to be an Inpres doctor. He faced unpredictable, unexpected, and unbelievable experiences during his service time.

The first case that he took charge of was Greorius’ Tumour. It was the first laparotomi-eksploratif-diagnostik-paliatif procedure in Puskesmas Tanah Merah, Papua. Nevertheless, the procedures failed, resulting in Mr Gregorius’ death. The second case in this book is about a child bitten by a snake. The third story was how John Manangsang proved that the Myth of Kupuk was false. One of the chapters talks about tuberculosis, a primary cause of death at that time. Also, another chapter talked about leptospirosis (penyakit kuning).

Some cases were very unique, such as broken urethra (the way of urine goes out), Caesar procedure with a small-razor blade, no-anal for defecation, and mumps (or Basedow’s disease). After that, he finished his service period as an Inpres doctor. He tried to end his experience by visiting a district or area controlled by Puskesmas Tanah Merah.

John’s experience during his 2 years of “Wajib Kerja Sarjana”, or internship in Boven Digul, Papua, is written in the book “Kisah Nyata: Catatan Dokter dari Belantara Boven Digul.” This is the 2nd book with an explanation addition inside. This book (2nd book) results from the reader’s request for a more detailed story behind John's chosen procedures. Compared with the 1st book, John dedicated the 1st book, especially to medical students and doctors in rural areas who are familiar with the medical term.

This book is very enjoyable, particularly the 2nd part. Most parts are arranged based on about 10 cases (one in each chapter). Its look is similar to a medical record (rekam medis), including the story of the case. The book also displays the scheme and pictures (or photos) in most chapters. Therefore, everyone can imagine how the real situation happens. Written in the book, John believes one statement, “Man shall not live on bread alone” (Matthew 4:4). It supports him to keep his spirit and struggle doing his activity as a young doctor. Each health problem that comes to him is served well.

The book also contains unusual terminology to introduce the reader to the medical environment. However, the definition of that term is included in the footnote. This book motivates medical students to be good future doctors and can learn how to solve problems with creative thinking. Nevertheless, some medications in the book still need verification to be applied in another case.

Despite the limits of knowledge and skills of doctors, based on respect for humanity, doctors need to oppose standard procedures to save lives. After reading this book, medical students will be inspired to help more people and make more smiles.

This story was adapted into a film with the same title.

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