The Jakarta Post
As the number of new cases keeps mounting, even one of the foremost COVID-19 referral hospitals in Jakarta faces a shortage of medical workers, a pulmonologist told President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in a video call on Sunday.
“Insya Allah [God willing], we have enough medical equipment. However, we are short of [medical] workers, while the number of patients keeps rising,” pulmonologist Faisal Rizal Matondang from the Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital (RSPI) said.
According to the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Indonesia, home to 271 million people, has only 0.13 specialist doctors per 1,000 people, fewer than half the government's target of 0.28 per 1,000 people as part of its health reform program. The figure for general practitioners is 0.52 per 1,000 people, fewer than half the ideal target of 1.12.
Adding to this shortage is the significant number of medical workers who have contracted COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak in the country in March. According to the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI), 123 doctors have died from COVID-19 so far.
Faisal himself had previously tested positive for COVID-19 but has recently recovered. He said that he was exposed to the virus because he worked closely with COVID-19 patients.
“Yesterday I was X-rayed and also took a swab test. I’ve been declared fit for duty. Today is my first day back on the job,” he said.
He said that he made sure to spend extra time communicating with COVID-19 patients in a lighthearted way, as many of them experienced boredom and loneliness in isolation.
“I try to motivate them to keep thinking positively about getting a negative swab test result,” he said.
“I can imagine how hard it is to be on the frontlines of handling COVID-19,” the President responded.
Jokowi expressed his gratitude for the work that Faisal and other medical workers had done on the frontlines of the outbreak.
“I am very grateful and appreciative for the hard work of the doctors and medical workers who are fighting [COVID-19],” he said.