Fast Track me Back to Health

Pictures: Nurcholis Anhari Lubis/Rex Features

As many as several dozen people per day intentionally try to electrocute themselves along the rails, because they believe it can cure all kinds of diseases, from diabetes to high-blood pressure to insomnia. When trains approach, people briefly step aside but rush back quickly into a sleeping position on the tracks to feel electrical currents they believe will cure their ailments.

Residents say the unorthodox — and dangerous — practice started with a local rumor about a man who tried to kill himself by lying on the tracks. He was fed up after suffering paralysis from a stroke and medical treatment failed to cure his symptoms. He allegedly decided that being crushed by a train would be better than continuing his misery. But while lying on the tracks, he suddenly felt cured, according to the hearsay. It’s unclear whether any elements of the story were true.

Pictures: Nurcholis Anhari Lubis/Rex Features

As word of the supposed miracle spread, train tracks in slum areas in northern Jakarta became trendy as impromptu clinics. Until recently, more than 50 people would show up at the city’s Rawa Buaya tracks every day. The numbers have dropped recently, since police and the state-run railroad erected a warning sign, but some people still come, convinced the tracks can cure them.

Pictures: Nurcholis Anhari Lubis/Rex Features

However, Indonesians have long complained about the quality of care in government-run clinics, which they say are under-funded and crowded. Like many other developing countries, Indonesia continues to have high rates of preventable disease such as dengue and tuberculosis. Indonesian health standards in some instances lag behind neighboring countries, with high maternal mortality, according to the World Health Organization. Many people can’t afford more sophisticated medical care than is available in government clinics.

Indeed, some Indonesians put more trust in their faith healers and herbal-medicine doctors than in Western medicine.


This story was originally published in The Sun UK