I am proud because several parties, both companies and universities, have come up with initiatives on ventilator production
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, has infected 17,025 Indonesians so far, with the number of dead reaching 1,089, including scores of medical workers.

The Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Response on May 6, 2020 stated that 55 medical workers — 38 doctors and 12 nurses — have succumbed to COVID-19.

The medical workers got infected due to several reasons, including contact with patients who did not accurately report their condition and lack of proper hazmat suits to protect them while treating patients.

President Joko Widodo has instructed that optimum protection be extended to doctors and medical workers at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic, according to Doni Monardo, head of the COVID-19 task force.

The protection encompasses ensuring the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical workers handling COVID-19 patients.

"We do not want to see more doctors die owing to a lack of protection. We need to cooperate with all parties to ensure that doctors receive better protection," he remarked on May 6, 2020.

In addition to lack of PPEs, Indonesia is also facing shortages of other medical devices, such as COVID-19 test kits, ventilators, and medical masks, as well as medicines.

In early April, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto relaxed a regulation on the export and import of health equipment and PPEs to resolve the problem of their scarcity.

The Trade Minister's Regulation No. 34 of 2020 temporarily bans the exports of antiseptics, mask raw materials, PPE, masks, and ethyl alcohol, until June 30, 2020, as domestic demand has jumped owing to the pandemic.

The Trade Minister's Regulation No. 28 of 2020 on the import of certain products has temporarily scrapped the obligation to submit a Surveyor Report (LS) for the import of masks and PPE products and other health equipment until June 30.

The Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR), however, has urged the government to mass-produce COVID-19 equipment, instead of relying on imports.

Equipment that need to be produced on a massive scale include PCR test kits, RT Lamp, Turbidimetry and Colorimetric-based test kits, and non-PCR Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RDT), ventilators, mobile BSL-2 Laboratory, powered air-purifying respirators, and PPEs, among others, according to Sugeng Suparwoto, chairman of Commission VII of the House of Representatives.

Post a COVID-19 Research and Innovation Consortium, the DPR has urged the BUMN (SOE) minister and health minister to help state-owned hospitals, government hospitals, and private hospitals purchase and use medical devices.

It has also urged the research and technology minister/BRIN head to conduct research that can lead to production of raw materials for medicines, and boost health resilience and sovereignty.

The DPR has called on the industry minister to assist the COVID-19 Research and Innovation Consortium to work with partner industries.

During the meeting, Research and Technology Minister/Head of BRIN Bambang P. S. Brodjonegoro has called upon the industry minister to help encourage industry partners to collaborate on innovations and technologies for handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Industry Ministry has responded positively to the call to mass produce Indonesia-made medical products.

"The products of medical equipment and pharmaceutical industries are in high demand. We need to capitalize on this to make Indonesia self-reliant in the health and pharmaceutical sectors," Minister of Industry, Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, stated during a virtual meeting with the Association of Indonesian Medical Device Manufacturers (Aspaki) and the Association of Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs on May 13, 2020.

Kartasasmita pointed out that the average Domestic Component Level (TKDN) of medical devices has reached 25-90 percent. This indicates a positive trajectory that must be maintained so that the pharmaceutical and medical devices sector can optimize the utilization of raw materials originating from within the country.

To encourage the development of the domestic drug raw materials industry, the Ministry of Industry will issue a ministerial regulation without delay, specifically regulating the procedures for calculating TKDN of pharmaceutical products. The new rules will support the development of raw materials and pharmaceutical research in the country.

There is potential for sourcing widely available natural raw materials for medicines in the country. Indonesian raw materials can be developed into import substitution materials for the pharmaceutical industry to develop modern medicines based on natural materials.

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Currently, the Ministry of Industry is coordinating with teams from four universities -- the Jogja Team led by Gadjah Mada University, the University of Indonesia Team, the Bandung Institute of Technology Team, and the Surabaya Sepuluh November Institute of Technology Team -- for the mass production of medical devices.

"The ventilators being developed by one of the universities are currently undergoing the stage of clinical trials and exploration with the industrial sector for mass production. We hope that in the near future, these ventilators can be produced immediately to meet domestic requirements," Kartasasmita noted.

It has been reported earlier that University of Indonesia (UI) will mass produce low-cost, pneumatic system-based local transport ventilators (COVENT-20) that have cleared a production test for the CMV and CPAP modes of ventilation at the Health Facility Security Agency (BPFK).

"In the first stage, UI targets to produce one thousand ventilators in a month for distribution at COVID-19 referral hospitals, through collaboration aimed at raising funds from various parties, under the coordination of the Association of Alumni of the UI Technical Faculty (ILUNI FTUI)," chief of the UI Ventilator Team, Dr. Basari, S.T., M. Eng, noted on May 1, 2020.

UI Rector Prof. Ari Kuncoro, SE, MA, Ph.D., stated that the cost of producing COVENT-20 is lower than that of commercial transport ventilators available now.

In addition, three state-owned strategic industries - PT Len Industri, PT Pindad, and PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), have voiced their readiness to produce thousands of ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

"I am proud because several parties, both companies and universities, have come up with initiatives on ventilator production," head of Presidential Staff, Moeldoko, noted recently.

As for PPE production, a number of micro, small, and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) have started to re-orient their businesses to produce hazmat suits that are crucial in the fight against COVID-19.

Related news: Indonesia to produce COVID-19 test kits, ventilators by late May

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Editor: Gusti Nur Cahya Aryani
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