A sign at a drugstore in Denpasar, Bali, informs customers that facemasks and hand sanitizers have run out. (Antara Photo/Nyoman Hendra Wibowo).
SOE Ministry to Use CSR Fund to Buy Much-Needed Medical Equipment in Fight Against Pandemic
BY :TARA MARCHELIN
MARCH 20, 2020
Jakarta. State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said on Friday that CSR funds of state-owned companies will be redirected for health procurement this year to help the government handle the escalating Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision was made in line with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's request to cut non-urgent state and local government budget and divert it for Covid-19 mitigation, social safety net and economic incentives for micro, small, medium enterprises (MSME).
"The ministry's budget is limited, so we're going to take the money from our businesses and CSR fund," Erick said in a virtual press conference.
Erick said state-owned pharmaceutical companies would supply 4.7 million masks by March 31.
"The masks are produced by state-owned pharmaceutical companies using imported raw materials. In the future, hopefully, we can cooperate with the Religious Affairs Ministry to supply masks for umrah and hajj pilgrimages. We won't have to import masks anymore,” he said.
The minister said the same state-owned pharmaceutical companies also have enough medicine in stock for 60,000 Covid-19 patients.
Erick was reluctant to provide details of the medicine supply but said the drug has been used and tested in several countries.
"I can't disclose the brand, but what's important is that this medicine is available for those who are sick [from Covid-19], and several countries have already used it. We have enough for 60,000 patients," Erick said.
Recently, US President Donald Trump and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk saw potential in a drug called chloroquine to treat Covid-19, with both showing their enthusiasm for the drug on social media.
According to scientists and biotech experts, the early data on the drug's efficacy against Covid-19 are promising, but there are still many unknowns.
Meanwhile, medical authorities in China say a Japanese flu drug known as Avigan, used to treat new strains of influenza, also appeared to be effective for treating Covid-19 patients.
Erick said the SOE Ministry will also cooperate with private companies to buy personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses since the government has very limited stock.
"We want all doctors and nurses to be equipped with personal protective equipment, but our stock is limited. Some private companies have already agreed to provide medical equipment and facemasks. The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce is collecting them at the moment," he said.
Erick also said the ministry has received donations of Covid-19 test kits from Singapore. He said the ministry has also ordered more test kits from Switzerland that will arrive at the end of March.
"We're prioritizing test kits using saliva specimens since we will distribute them to hospitals. We've involved doctors, experts and a team from the Health Ministry to check the quality of the kits," Erick said.