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Shortage of PPE, medical workers hindering COVID-19 fight, says Terawan

Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto has said that a variety of issues is hampering the country’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, including the shortage of protective gear as well as medical workers to provide tests and treatment for the disease.


“Our first obstacle [in fighting COVID-19] is getting a sufficient number of personal protective equipment [PPE] such as hazmat suits and surgical masks. The entire world is currently experiencing high demand for such equipment,” Terawan said on Thursday at a working meeting with House of Representatives Commission IX on health care.


The shortage of PPE had also hindered authorities from launching rigorous testing programs to detect the disease earlier and more accurately.


In response to the nation’s need, several small and medium enterprises across the archipelago have started diverting their resources to produce PPE and provide them to hospitals for free.


The minister also highlighted difficulties in distributing medical professionals to the facilities that needed them most. The ministry’s records show that the country has about 40,320 specialist doctors spread across more than 2,800 hospitals.


Meanwhile, only 132 of these hospitals have the facilities and capacities to be designated as COVID-19 referral hospitals.

“We also need special facilities where medical personnel can get some rest during their free time,” said Terawan.


Doctors and nurses treating COVID-19 patients as well as other health workers have faced discrimination from people fearing that they might transmit the virus. Some health workers have reported that they had been kicked out of their rented rooms as a result of the social stigma.


Other communities have come together to help out those who have been affected by the outbreak and the most vulnerable through various initiatives involving individuals, community organizations and private companies.


For example, the Indonesia Disaster Awareness Movement Foundation (Graisena) is running an Instagram fund-raising campaign to provide aid to families whose breadwinners have been hospitalized with COVID-19. Eligible families will receive Rp 20,000 (US$1,20) per person per day for a maximum duration of 45 days.

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