Two doctors stand inside the intensive care unit of Siloam Hospitals' new Covid-19 facility in South Jakarta on Monday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Patient's Personal Data Should Be Protected During Pandemic: Research Laboratory


APRIL 03, 2020

Jakarta. The personal information of Covid-19 patients in Indonesia should be shared responsibly during the pandemic, according to Open Data Lab Jakarta's research manager, Glenn Maail.

A survey by the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) revealed that most Indonesians agree the patients' personal information should be disclosed to protect the public. 

"Protecting the public from the disease doesn't mean we have to rule out individual privacy. Patient data during the pandemic should be shared carefully, strictly and within limits," Glenn said in an online seminar on Thursday.

LIPI released the results of its survey on March 27 after interviewing 15,101 respondents across Indonesia.

A total of 97 percent of the respondents agreed Covid-19 patients' recent travel history should be made available to the public. 

Meanwhile, 65.8 percent of the respondents agreed the location of the patients' neighborhood units (RT) and urban hamlets (RW) should also be disclosed, and 64 percent agreed the location of the village or urban ward where the patients reside should be revealed. 

A total of 61.2 percent of the respondents agreed the patients' names should be published.

However, Glenn said the patients' personal data are not the be all and end all in the fight to curb the spread of Covid-19.

"There are other data that can be used aside from personal data. Individual privacy and public health should not be mutually exclusive," he said.

Glenn said several countries have been using digital tracking to prevent the spread of coronavirus without breaking medical confidentiality to reduce the social and psychological impact on the patients. 

"The digital tracking is done through an application that can send a notification to people when someone has tested positive for coronavirus in their area," he said.

Government Needs to Be More Open

Even though he thinks individual privacy should not be sacrificed during the pandemic, Glenn said the government does need to make more data available to the public.

At the moment, they only reveal the number of positive patients, recoveries and fatalities during a daily briefing.

According to Glenn, the public needs more accurate information on available health facilities and the number of tests for coronavirus that have been performed so far. 

"The more data are made available to the public, the more they would want to get involved in Covid-19 mitigation," Glenn said.

Andi Taufan Garuda Putra, one of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's "millennial aides," admitted the government needs to provide better data on its handling of the pandemic. 

Nevertheless, he said the government has always tried to be transparent to the public. 

"We still need to improve the data. Our data system is limited and we can't currently integrate all the data from the central government, regional governments and hospitals. However, the government has been transparent about them and is always accountable to the public," Andi said.