TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The government needs to pay greater attention to the condition of health workers who are facing high workloads and risk in handling COVID-19 patients, urged the deputy speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), Syarief Hasan.
"The medical and healthcare workers have put their lives at risk to help combat the pandemic. The government should be fully conscious (to their hardship)," Syarief Hasan said in a written statement received on Saturday.
The workers' pay is also not commensurate with their increased workload in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.
"(The healthcare and medical workers) are working hard, yet some healthcare volunteers have received only a minimum for their pay," he pointed out.
An exhausted medical officer is seen resting after carrying out the free BNI Share Swab Test program in Jakarta, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. BNI collaborates with the Bunda Hospital network and the JSK Group to hold a free COVID-19 swab test for 30,000. participants. ANTARA
The government should immediately and evenly distribute incentives -- ranging from Rp5 million (around US$343) to Rp15 million (around US$1,029) per month -- that have been promised to healthcare and medical workers, he added.
"Incentives supposed to have been received by November (2020) have only recently been disbursed to the workers in several regions," Hasan noted.
The government funded the healthcare budget through the sale of government bonds in 2020, he said. The distribution of the budget for meeting healthcare workers' needs and purposes must be prioritized, he added.
If health workers resign due to unpaid incentives, COVID-19 patient handling would become more difficult, especially if the worst case scenario of 100,000 infections per day unfolds, he cautioned.
With daily positive cases reaching 57,756, and a high number of patients still undergoing treatment and yet to recover, the country is in urgent need of more healthcare workers, Hasan said.
"If no improvement occurs, this nation and its people would suffer more," he remarked.
He said the government should be open to critical feedback from experts and the society and seek suggestions on ways to handle the pandemic together.
The nation must unite to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic as the infection rate needs to be reduced first before an economic recovery process can start, he added.