One year into outbreak, Indonesians soldier on

04-Mar-2021 Intellasia | JakartaPost | 6:54 AM Print This Post

When Health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin was sworn into the position in December 2020, he said this about the country’s COVID-19 efforts: “We believe it is not enough for the government to come up with its own programmes; there must be a movement carried out together with the Indonesian people.” But this was something many Indonesians had already been doing after months of COVID-19, and as the twin health and economic crises continue to batter the country and adversely affect mental health, people have been offering helping hands to those in need and filling the gaps left by the government’s virus response.

Joining hands

When Health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin was sworn into the position in December 2020, he said this about the country’s COVID-19 efforts: “We believe it is not enough for the government to come up with its own programmes; there must be a movement carried out together with the Indonesian people.” But this was something many Indonesians had already been doing after months of COVID-19, and as the twin health and economic crises continue to batter the country and adversely affect mental health, people have been offering helping hands to those in need and filling the gaps left by the government’s virus response. Joining hands Young people from a subdistrict of Bandung, West Java, for instance, started collecting waste in exchange for money, which they used to buy groceries for some 200 families with young children and pregnant women living in the area. In August of last year, the community began hanging food packages on a gate at a nearby riverbank for more struggling families to take, a nod to the programme’s name, Cantelan, which roughly translates to “hooks”. All of this was done in the absence of government aid and amid disruptions to locally managed integrated health service posts (Posyandu), said local community head Sofyan Mustafha. The initiative has been suspended for the past two months, after five cases of the virus were reported in the neighbourhood. The money the community collected was redirected to buy food and supplies for the 36 residents who had to self-isolate at home

The neighbourhood pitched in Rp 1 million per day in the absence of government aid, Sofyan said, with donations coming even from low-income residents, whose job security had been compromised by the outbreak. Many of the residents hit hardest by the pandemic were not even listed as potential recipients of state social assistance. In addition, the benefits afforded through the scheme have been reduced this year. “The pandemic is going to last for a while. It won’t end this year. Waiting for the government takes a long time, so we’re just doing it on our own,” Sofyan said on Sunday

Help has not only come in the form of groceries but there has been a spike in volunteer-based civil society movements that aim to help inform the public about the pandemic. Volunteer group LaporCOVID-19 has helped people seek out hospital beds, while KawalCOVID-19 has provided transmission data in various regions. The latter has a team of 20 volunteers collecting data from the central government and regional administrations, highlighting any discrepancies or extracting and analysing important information from the mounds of data made available to the public, such as case-fatality ratios and details of at-risk groups. The volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, from university students to homemakers.

KawalCOVID-19 coordinator Ronald Bessie said the team remained optimistic one year into the pandemic, even though the team had no idea how long it would continue its activities. He bemoaned the fact that there had barely been any improvement or standardisation in the government’s data collection and presentation.

The people need to know their risks [...] We’re forced to continue as the pandemic drags on,” he told The Jakarta Post on Monday. “Without data, there’s no guidance for the people. For us, that’s just wrong.” Indonesia announced its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 2 of last year and its first death on March 11. Now, a year into the epidemic, hundreds of people in the country are dying from the disease on a daily basis. The cumulative total exceeded 36,000 deaths on Sunday. More than 1.3 million people in the country have caught the virus, although the true scale of the outbreak is believed to be much higher. More than 1 million people have recovered and 150,000 more are still recovering.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2021/03/02/one-year-into-outbreak-indonesians-soldier-on.html

 

Category: Indonesia

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