Doctors' association disputes government claim Covid-19 pandemic under control

CNN Indonesia – July 16, 2021
Health workers examine Covid-19 patients at Jakarta hospital – June 23, 2021 (CNN)

Jakarta – Indonesian Doctor's Association (IDI) Deputy Chairperson Slamet Budiarto says that the corona virus pandemic in Indonesia is not yet under control.

The statement was made in response to claims by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan – who is coordinating the government's Covid-19 response – who said that the Covid-19 situation is under control.

Several of the claims that the pandemic is under control were related to the addition of more healthcare workers, oxygen, drugs and payment of overdue debts to hospitals.

Budiarto said that the government still has a debt of around 6.6 trillion rupiah owed to hospitals, and this is debt that should have been paid in 2020.

"There are still some who have not been paid since 2020. The total is 6.6 trillion rupiah. Some of this is also under dispute. If hospitals are not paid, the doctors are also not paid", said Budiarto when contacted by CNN Indonesia by phone on Friday July 16.

Budiarto also explained that the situation on the ground is that there are still many hospitals which are overwhelmed by the continuing surge in patients, while the number healthcare workers are increasingly inadequate.

"Hospitals are still overwhelmed, healthcare workers are insufficient, both doctors and non-doctors", he said.

Not only that, Budiarto also said that the reality on the ground is that medicines are still difficult to find, moreover oxygen supplies are not enough to meet demand.

According to Budiarto, all of the claims being made by the government are contradicted by the situation on the ground.

Certainly, said Budiarto, many hospitals have been augmented by transforming multi-purpose buildings, but this will in no way help efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moreover, said Budiarto, adding hospitals is pointless if the government cannot add facilities and healthcare workers to meet the demand.

"What are additional emergency hospitals for if there aren't any healthcare workers, no medicines, no oxygen. What are they for", he asked.

Budiarto then explained that Covid-19 can only be said to be under control if the number of sick and infection rates can be brought down. However what is happening at the moment is the opposite – the number of sick people and deaths are continuing to rise.

"Meaning that it can be concluded that it's not yet under control, right. Meaning we are stating that the pandemic is not yet under control", he said.

Earlier, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan was responding to criticism that the government has been unable to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control. Pandjaitan denied such a view and said he was ready to meet with anyone who believes the pandemic is not under control.

"If anyone is saying that the situation isn't under control, it's very very much under control. So those saying it's not under control can come to me, and I'll show them to their face that we've got it under control", said Pandjaitan during a virtual press conference on the Presidential Secretariat YouTube channel on Monday July 12.

Pandjaitan has also received an instruction from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to evaluate the Emergency Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM) for Java and Bali.

Currently he is preparing a policy related to the emergency PPKM for Java and Bali which has been in place since July 3.

"Yesterday the president asked me to conduct an evaluation. I promised the president that tomorrow or later this afternoon we would report what actions we will taken based on existing data", said Pandjaitan during a vertical press conference on the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investments' YouTube channel on Thursday July 15. (tst/pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "IDI Jawab Kemenko Marves: Pandemi Covid-19 Belum Terkendali".]