Jakarta. Indonesia is ramping up production of medical protective gear, medical supplies, and critical medicines, confident of local producers' capacity to meet the demand during the Covid-19 pandemic in the next four months.
"The domestic industry can produce the equipment for meeting both local and international demand," Agus Wibowo, the head of data, information and communication center at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) in a statement over the weekend.
The country has 28 companies that were capable of producing more than 17.3 million pieces of coverall suit and 508,000 pieces of surgical gown per month, Agus said. Five of those companies have been in operation, while 23 others would start production in April, he said.
The agency said Indonesia required between 9 million to 16.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) per month in the next four months, up from regular usage of 3 million pieces.
Local producers also have an installed capacity of 150 million pieces of disposable masks per month, but only make 100 million in normal time.
The manufacturers usually export half of the masks they produced, leaving the remainder to cover for less than a third of local demand, which averages at 162 million pieces. Agus said Indonesia often imported 112-122 million pieces of mask per month.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had said earlier that Indonesia would stop exporting critical medical supplies and PPE to ensure their availability for Indonesian medical workers.
In the first few weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak in Indonesia, many doctors and nurses had to use makeshift PPE made from plastic bags or raincoat as local stocks were exported to meet demand from countries that encounter the outbreak earlier than the Southeast Asian country.
Agus said the disposable mask producers now committed to run at full capacity. Also, several textile companies, including state-owned Industri Sandang Nusantara, Pan Brothers, Sri Rejeki Isman (Sritex), and Duniatex, were shifting their production line to 31 million pieces of mask per month, Agus said.
That boosted the country's capacity to make 181 million disposable masks per month, he said.
Indonesia also has an installed capacity to produce 8.6 billion examination and surgical gloves per year. Currently, the producers only run at 80 percent of the capacity, Agus said.
Indonesian manufacturers can also supply ethanol for hand sanitizers and disinfectants. Six producers have 12 million liters of ethanol ready for distribution this week, Agus said. The country can produce 245 million liters of ethanol per year, more than double the typical local demand of 100 liters.
BNPB estimated the country would need 13 million liters of ethanol for producing 13,000 tons of hand sanitizer during the Covid-19 pandemic. There were 104 manufacturers with a total production capacity of 156,000 tons of hands sanitizer per year in Indonesia, Agus said.
Also, Agus said the agency remained confident of local producers to supply drugs used in Covid-19 patient's treatment. Indonesia has Imedco Djaja, a pharmaceutical company that can produce 1.5 million tablets of hydroxychloroquine sulfate per month. State-controlled Kimia Farma and Novapharin Pharmaceutical Industries can provide a total of 1.4 million tablets of chloroquine phosphate per month.
The companies have enough raw material to produce drugs at full capacity for up to the next four months before seeing the output dropped as "price of the raw material increase and the [raw material] producing country limit their exports," BNPB said.