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Indonesia channels spirit of 'gotong royong' in COVID-19 battle

Indonesia channels spirit of 'gotong royong' in COVID-19 battle

Aid packages are distributed to the needy amid COVID-19 outbreak. ANTARA FOTO/Hendra Nurdiyansyah/aww.

Since it first emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, the coronavirus disease has spread to 211 countries and territories, with 3,237,614 confirmed cases, 1,010,320 recoveries, and 228,830 deaths recorded globally, according to Worldometer website.

While declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, the WHO director general, in a media briefing on March 11, 2020, had said that every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight against the deadly virus.

“I have said from the beginning that countries must take a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach, built around a comprehensive strategy to prevent infections, save lives and minimize impact,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

As of April 30, 2020, Indonesia has recorded 10,118 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 792 people succumbing to the infection and 522 patients making a full recovery. The centers of COVID-19 transmission in the country include Jakarta, and several cities in West Java, East Java, Central Java, and Banten.

In keeping with the WHO advise, Indonesia has been involving all stakeholders in battling the virus, and optimizing the nation’s tradition of “gotong royong”, or mutual help or cooperation.

"The government cannot work alone. The entire nation's participation is indispensable," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said from the Bogor Presidential Palace on April 18, 2020.


He said the current situation has left people ill at ease, but, with the spirit of "goyong royong", Indonesia would be able to come out of the current crisis.

The call for “gotong royong” resonated with nutritionist Lidya Sembiring, who registered as a volunteer at Jakarta’s Wisma Atlet Emergency Hospital, which is providing COVID-19 treatment. She made the decision after witnessing her medical peers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle and upon hearing of the demise of a people she knew.

"My initial impulse was prompted after seeing fellow nurses and medical personnel fighting on the frontlines, and then the deaths of some of my lecturers. Right then and there, it left a deep impact on my heart," Sembiring said during a press conference held by the Task Force for the Acceleration of Handling COVID-19 on April 29, 2020.

Faced with limited human resources, the COVID-19 task force has appealed to people, particularly those with a medical background, to enlist as volunteers.

"Since we opened the registration process four weeks ago, a total of 28,900 people have registered, of whom, 5,500 are medical volunteers, while the rest are non-medical ones," the task force’s volunteer team coordinator, Andre Rahardian, said on April 29, 2020.

The volunteers come from different regions of Indonesia, and are not solely from Jakarta. Most harbor a humanitarian spirit and inclination for mutual cooperation.

Non-medical volunteers constitute about 80 percent of the volunteer force. Following a training course, they are tasked with logistics and general administration pertaining to aid distribution.

The task force now needs more medical volunteers as the 5,500 recently recruited volunteers are not yet ready to be placed on duty.


Hence, the task force has put a temporary stop to accepting non-medical volunteers, though the process is expected to reopen next week.

"More medical personnel are needed in the wake of the pandemic. Of the 5,500 people that have already registered, 2,500 to 3,000 volunteers should be ready to be placed on duty after we complete the selection process," Rahardian revealed.

Volunteers on duty need to meet certain requirements, which include possession of a registered certificate, a letter of consent from family, as well as a medical examination report.

Meanwhile, the University of Indonesia's Nursing School is running a COVID-19 Crisis Center to provide consultation and counseling to people and medical workers.

The counseling team includes lecturers at the nursing school and experienced nurses.

The school established the crisis center when the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic, Dean of the University of Indonesia Nursing School, Agus Setiawan, said on April 24, 2020.

"We created a special team to educate people on COVID-19 transmission, prevention, and symptoms, along with issues around mental health during a pandemic," he revealed.

Consultation and counseling are also being carried out online. People can register themselves with the Crisis Center's Hotline via the Whatsapp number +6281383115786.

Consultations and counseling are being provided for free, and cover physical concerns, guides to treatments at home, guides to home isolation, Setiawan said.

Besides counseling, the center is also educating the public on health and recruiting and briefing volunteers for the medical and general division for hospitals, including the Athlete's Village Emergency Hospital.

Chairwoman of the Education and Consultation Center of the Crisis Center, Dessie Wanda, revealed that she had received complaints about the workload of nurses and other health workers in the field, as well as concerns surrounding the stigma against them when they return home or to their dormitories.

"For this reason, we hope that this service can ease the burden, stress, or anxiety of nurses and health workers on duty, and of course also improve people's understanding of COVID-19,” she said.

Frontline doctors, nurses and other health workers are working long hours as Indonesia has gone all-out in battling the virus. So far, at least 32 doctors and 12 nurses have died of COVID-19 infection.

Meanwhile, more than 800 hospitals owned by the central government, regional governments, state-owned enterprises (BUMN), the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), the Indonesian Police (Polri), and the private sector are treating coronavirus patients.


More than four thousand beds have been prepared and emergency hospitals readied as first-line hospitals for treating mild and moderate cases.

Referral hospitals are focusing on providing medical care to patients in critical condition to ensure adequate and optimal services to patients, according to Achmad Yurianto, the government’s spokesperson for COVID-19 response. 

Related news: Indonesia needs spirit of 'gotong royong' in COVID-19 fight: Jokowi
Related news: Indonesians should foster "gotong royong" to fight COVID-19: minister

 

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