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Jakarta Post

Indonesia to have enough PPE as manufacturers agree to produce 17 million units: Govt

  • Galih Gumelar

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, April 4, 2020   /   11:14 am
Indonesia to have enough PPE as manufacturers agree to produce 17 million units: Govt A worker at a textile workshop tries personal protective equipment (PPE) in Ploso Geneng village, Jombang regency of East Java on March 30. Textile producers in the region have switched from producing fashion items to making the much needed PPE, priced at Rp 55,000 (US$3.3) per piece, to help the nation fight the COVID-19 wave. (Antara/Syaiful Arif)

The government is confident about the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers in Indonesia, given that the domestic textile and garment industry has the capacity to produce 17 million pieces per month.

Wiku Adisasmito, an expert at Indonesia's COVID-19 rapid response task force, said that number was based on the combined production capacity of 31 textile manufacturers and 2,900 garment production facilities across the country.

Those manufacturers, he added, had committed to providing the gear after the Indonesian Textile Association (API) and the Indonesian Fiber and Filament Yarn Producers Association (Apsify) agreed to help the government meet domestic demand.

“Based on the number, we are confident that the PPE supply will suffice, especially medical gowns, so we don’t have to depend on imported equipment anymore,” Wiku said at a press conference on Friday.

He went on to say that the manufacturers would use two main materials, polyester and polyurethane, to produce the equipment, adding that those substances complied with World Health Organization (WHO) standards on protective equipment.

Read also: COVID-19: Textile factories face hurdles as they switch to producing medical gear

Both materials would allow for the equipment to be washed numerous times and be worn by medical workers repeatedly.

“Thus, the equipment could replace disposable medical gowns which have always been used by medical workers. And we have an abundant supply of both materials, too, so I think we don’t have to worry about the equipment production stopping due to a lack of raw materials,” Wiku added.

Muhammad Khayam, the Industry Ministry’s chemical, pharmacy and textile director general, estimated that Indonesia’s PPE production per month would exceed demand, saying the country would only need 3 to 5 million pieces of the gear until May.

“And we hope those manufacturers will distribute 5 to 10 million pieces of protective equipment at the end of April,” Khayam said in a statement. “We have also asked manufacturers to expedite their production as the spread of COVID-19 is [accelerating] in Indonesia,” he added.

Since mid-February, Indonesia’s health workers, doctors and nurses have been working overtime to treat COVID-19 cases, despite many of them having inadequate personal protection. Many of the medical workers were found to have worn makeshift personal protection gear, including raincoats, in lieu of hazmat suits.

Due to the woeful condition, medical workers have threatened not to treat COVID-19 patients unless the supply of protective equipment is sufficient, especially after several health workers contracted the disease – and some have died – after treating patients with the disease.

Read also: Indonesia’s COVID-19 stimulus playbook explained

To address the issue, the Indonesian Military (TNI) has been distributing protective equipment from the national warehouse at Halim Perdana Kusuma Air Base in East Jakarta since March 23. As of Thursday, as many as 300,000 pieces of equipment have been delivered to all provinces of Indonesia.

Health Ministry Disease Control and Prevention Director General Achmad Yurianto said that most of the equipment, as many as 85,000 items, had been distributed to Jakarta, given that the capital was the epicenter of the disease with 971 confirmed COVID-19 cases, or 48.8 percent of the total 1,986 national cases as of Thursday.

“We acknowledge that the distributed equipment is not sufficient for medical workers, and therefore we are going to purchase and distribute [more items],” Achmad said.