Indonesian Hospitals Collapse before the Covid-19 Peak

Translator

TEMPO

Editor

Laila Afifa

16 July 2021 15:22 WIB

Patients resting on the floor in an emergency tent amid the COVID-19 pandemic at a Bekasi area hospital in Bekasi, June 25, 2021. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

TEMPO.CO, JakartaIndonesian health system failed to stem the spread of the pandemic. Stop politicizing the pandemic and entrust the handling of it to the medical authorities.

Indonesian health facilities are in a state of collapse before the Covid-19 pandemic has peaked. A number of referral hospitals in Jakarta and other major cities in Java are unable to acceptany more Covid patients, whose numbers continue to grow. It was predicted that the peak of the second wave will be reached in August.

The national health system is completely unpreparable for this pandemic. When the pandemic reached Indonesia in March last year, the government was in denial and lulling the people into a false sense of security. Eventually, all the efforts at prevention came too late. Recently, there have been more and more reports and news of Covid-19 patients dying because they have been unable to obtain treatment - and some have died in self-isolation at their homes.
But there are still state officials denying that there is an emergency. 

These issues have wrecked public trust. As a result, the public receive with skepticism the government's recommendations to adhere to health protocols. Violations to the limitation set by the government to curb Covid cases are also unavoidable.

The weakness of national leadership has led to disarray in the handling of the pandemic. Instead of entrusting it to the medical authorities, President Joko Widodo has been establishing task forces and ad hoc committees willy-nilly headed by economics ministers with other high-rank officials as members. Whn the pandemic became more serious, the central government was very quick to lay the blame on regional leaders.

Coordination between government institutions is in chaos because some elements in the government see the pandemic through the lens of politics. They take masures to handle the pandemic based on short-term considerations. The pandemic is seen as an opportunity to grab or maintain power. These officials should have positioned themselves as guardians of the public interest.

Although it is late, there must be corrections. The health must be given greater powers. Reforms to important institutions are not only to take us out of the Covid-19 crisis, but also to anticipate future pandemics. An institution to handle pandemics must be led by and be staffd by competent public health experts, epidemiologists, and public policy experts. It must be independent and must make decisions based on public health considerations without intervention from political or economic interests.

At the same time, the government needs to restore public trust so they will stand shoulder to shoulder to fight this pandemic. Indonesia needs competent leadership and to prioritize the public interest. A true leader is one who has sufficient strength of character to optimize increasingly limited resources and to rebuild damaged public solidarity.

Read also: Yogyakarta Calls for 200 Student Volunteers at Covid-19 Emergency Hospitals

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