Indonesia’s health workers are struggling with a “double burden”: NGO


A medical worker checks Covid-19 coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Bogor on June 18, 2021, as the infection rate of the Indonesian Covid-19 coronavirus increases.

Aditya Aji | AFP | Getty Images

Medical workers in Indonesia are grappling with pressure to care for Covid-19 patients while quickly vaccinating the country’s residents as infections rise, according to a global health and humanitarian aid organization.

“Health workers in Indonesia are faced with a double burden,” said Edhie Rahmat, executive director for Indonesia at Project HOPE, short for Health Opportunities for People Everywhere.

First of all, they have to take care of both Covid patients and patients with other diseases. Second, they are “under pressure to quickly cover large numbers of populations in need of vaccination,” he told CNBC in an email.

The total number of infections passed the 2 million mark on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 55,594 people have died of Covid-19 in Indonesia. Around 8.9% of the Indonesian population has now received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and 4.6% of the country is fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

The longer the pandemic continues and the higher the number of cases builds, (it) will affect their workload and make them susceptible to transmission and infection.

Edhie Rahmat

Executive Director for Indonesia at Project HOPE

“The longer the pandemic goes on and the higher the number of cases builds, it will affect their workload and make them prone to transmission and infection,” he said, noting that there are limited beds and a lack of quality personal protective equipment in intensive care units Country.

Almost 980 health care workers have died of Covid-19, according to LaporCovid-19.

Health workers are also at risk of developing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, Rahmat said.

“Most health care workers in Indonesia do not have the experience to deal with long-term crisis situations like this,” Yogi Mahendra, Project HOPE’s Southeast Asia emergency specialist, said in a statement.

Increase in cases

Indonesia’s coronavirus cases have increased in the last few weeks after May’s Eid holiday.

“Most Indonesians, regardless of their religion, enjoy this meeting and celebrate with lots of food, handshakes and conversation,” Rahmat said.

Authorities announced stricter restrictions in 29 sources of infection this week to curb the spread of the virus, Reuters reported.

In these so-called “red zones”, religious activities have been suspended at places of worship, while restaurants, cafes and shopping centers can only operate at 25% occupancy, Reuters said.

The country’s most populous island, Java, will be hardest hit by the second wave, Rahmat said.

He also noted that some vaccinated health care workers had Covid-19, citing a report by a Kudu District official who said 350 such cases had been identified.

“We also received a report of the death of a midwife in the district alongside kudu and two doctors in different districts during the same period,” he said.

Even if medical staff have mild symptoms, they must be isolated for 10 days and cannot work in the hospitals if the cases “shoot up quickly,” he added.

“This is a serious problem and it can ruin the health system,” Rahmat said.