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Jakarta Post

Terawan discusses Indonesia's COVID-19 response at WHO briefing

  • Ardila Syakriah
    Ardila Syakriah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, November 7, 2020   /   06:25 am
Terawan discusses Indonesia's COVID-19 response at WHO briefing Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto attends a working meeting with House of Representatives lawmakers at the House building in Senayan, Jakarta, on Feb. 3. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto joined the World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom at the United Nations health body's COVID-19 virtual press briefing on Friday to talk about Indonesia's multisectoral review of its COVID-19 response, which suggests there is much room for improvement.

Terawan, along with health representatives from Thailand and South Africa, shared their country's respective Intra-Action Reviews (IARs), country-led facilitated processes conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, which brings together stakeholders involved in the in-country public health response.

Indonesia conducted its IAR virtually with the support of the WHO from Aug. 11 to 14, which Terawan said was intended to become "a platform for continual learning".

"From our point of view, the result of the IAR has provided input for Indonesia to improve multisectoral preparedness coordination, in line with the multisectoral preparedness framework published by the WHO on May 22 to strengthen coordination for a better health emergency preparedness," he said during the press briefing.

Among the recommendations resulting from the IAR are improving command and coordination among multisectoral stakeholders at the national and subnational levels, periodic monitoring of response plan indicators -- including surveillance and laboratory coordination, as well as better triage at health facilities to avoid exposure of patients and the health workforce to COVID-19.

It also suggested an improvement in the enforcement of large-scale social restrictions implementation and monitoring, as well as in empowering and engaging the community through COVID-19 key messaging.

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Telemedicine to prevent virus exposure should also be enhanced, the IAR suggested, while also maintaining essential health services such as immunization, tuberculosis, HIV and non-communicable diseases programs.

Terawan claimed that the government had been following the recommendations, such as by including them in the revised COVID-19 health sector operational plan at the national and subnational levels.

"Based on the IAR's recommendations, we have expanded the laboratory network and referral hospitals, as well as conducting massive recruitment of contact tracers and training of contact tracing. The Health Ministry and all of the Indonesian government have conducted efforts in the nine pillars of the COVID-19 strategic response," he said.

However, the government's data show that the number of new people tested daily between Oct. 25 and Nov. 4 declined to below 30,000, with persistently high positivity rates.

Acting director general of disease prevention and control at the Health Ministry, M. Budi Hidayat, said the decline in tests was because cases had also tended to fall.

"The number of suspected cases has dropped, as well as the number of samples. In some provinces, cases have tended to fall, hopefully it will be a good trend," Budi said Monday as quoted by kompas.com.

However, referring to data compiled by the WHO, the number of suspected infections had continued to increase from the end of September to the end of October. Meanwhile the number of tests decreased leading to a widening gap between suspected cases and tests being carried out.