Workers produce medical protective clothings in Semarang, Central Java, on Friday (Antara Photo/Aji Styawan)

Gov't Pledges More PPE Amid Growing Concern Among Medical Workers

BY :NUR YASMIN

MARCH 28, 2020

Jakarta. The Indonesian government needs millions of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other medical supplies as it anticipates longer-than-expected emergency period due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a senior government official has said.

“Our current PPE stock is not adequate. We need millions or at least hundreds of thousands of them. Under the pessimistic scenario, this situation might continue to a few months, so we need millions,” Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud M.D. said in a video conference on Friday.

Indonesia currently has 19,000 units of PPE in its stockpile, but the rapidly increasing Covid-19 cases may lead to a major shortage in the near future, Mahfud said.

“According to our record, a lot of patients failed to recover because they did not get access to ventilators due to the queue. So we will acquire more [ventilators]," Mahfud said.

He said PPE imports will continue but at the same time local companies are encouraged to produce them.

"Other countries are facing the same problem -- they are short of ventilators. Many local companies are able to produce PPE, so we expect the government to buy from them very soon. The locally-produced PPE must surely meet the WHO [World Health Organization] standard,” Mahfud said.

Indonesia received 8 tons of PPE and other medical supplies from China on Monday and another 40 tons on Friday.

Meanwhile, several groups of medical workers expressed concern that deficiency of PPE or limited access to them has increased safety risks at their jobs.

In a joint statement, they demand the sufficient amount of PPE and easy access to them, or they give up treating Covid-19 patients.

“If this is not fulfilled, we will ask people in our profession to refrain from handling Covid-19 patients to protect ourselves. Because if we contracted the virus, we will fall ill and have to stop handling patients or we transmit the virus to them,” it said.

The statement was jointly issued by the Indonesian Doctors Association, the National Nurses Association, the Indonesian Midwives Association, the Indonesian Dentists Association and the Indonesian Apothecary Association.

The government doesn't provide official figure on the number of medical workers affected by the virus. However, the Indonesian Doctors Association announced earlier that at least six doctors have died from Covid-19. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Thursday at least 50 medical workers have contracted the virus in the capital.

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