US President Donald Trump and President Joko 'Jokowi" Widodo pose for photograph at a G20 meeting in Osaka last year. (Photo courtesy of the State Palace)

Trump Promises Jokowi Ventilators as Two Countries Join Hand in Fight Against Covid-19


APRIL 25, 2020

Jakarta. The United States President Donald Trump said he would fulfill a request for ventilators from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to help the Southeast Asian country cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"Just spoke to my friend, President Joko Widodo of the Republic of Indonesia. Asking for Ventilators, which we will provide. Great cooperation between us!" Trump tweeted late on Friday. 

Trump did not specify the number of ventilators requested by Indonesia nor when the US would send the ventilators.  

Indonesia's presidential secretariat office confirmed on Saturday that Jokowi had talked with Trump from the Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java on Friday. 

Jokowi expressed his appreciation for the cooperation between Indonesia and the United States governments in dealing with the pandemic so far, the Presidential Secretariat said in a statement.

Trump and Jokowi discussed possible cooperation in efforts to overcome the shortage of medical devices like ventilators and protective devices for medical personnel, like personal protective equipment (PPE), and surgical masks, the office said. 

The Presidential Secretariat said Trump hs told Jokowi about the US effort in ramping up ventilators production and said he would send it to Indonesia when it was ready. This cooperation will be followed up by teams from each country.

Indonesia, like many other countries affected by the coronavirus outbreak, now urgently needs a ventilator to treat Covid-19 patients in a critical stage. In severe cases, the coronavirus causes pneumonia which makes the patient difficult, or even unable, to breathe.

Indonesia just has over 8,000 ventilators across the archipelago, as the country relied on imports for the supply of the device in the past, according to the latest data from the Health Ministry. 

Domestic production is currently still in the stage of developing prototypes, involving several state-owned enterprises, universities, and research institutions. It is estimated that the earliest mass production of ventilators made in Indonesia can only begin next month, while the number of new cases of Covid-19 in Indonesia continues to increase in by hundreds every day. 

Besides to Jokowi, Trump has also promised US assistance on ventilators procurement to Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and El Salvador President Nayib Bukele.

But, Indonesia may need to be patient for the ventilators to arrive. The US, especially the country's Covid-19 epicentrum New York, still lacks ventilators for their patients.