BOULDER, Colorado — Indonesia is a nation off the coast of South Asia, spread across an enormous archipelago. Due to its advantageous location, the country has been a hub of trade for centuries. In the past, its main exports consisted mostly of agricultural products. Today, Indonesia is an international exporter of a variety of products such as petroleum, wood, automobiles and electronics. However, the impact of COVID-19 in Indonesia has now spanned across all sectors of life, as it has worldwide. It has put a halt to many export trading endeavors, and Indonesia’s economy suffered harshly as a result. Additionally, a lack of medical professionals has left the nation in a position of uncertainty.
According to the World Bank, not only is Indonesia the world’s fourth most populous nation but it is also the world’s tenth-largest economy. Since 1999, the nation has made significant strides in reducing poverty, shrinking the percentage of those living in poverty to just 9.78%. Due to the shock of the pandemic, however, its gross domestic product (GDP) plummeted. The Indonesian GDP was expected to shrink by just 0.3%, but experts now expect a 1.5% decline. The suffering economy has pushed approximately five and a half to eight million citizens back into poverty.
Indonesia’s COVID-19 cases have far surpassed the one million mark, and the death toll is climbing with it. On top of that, medical experts believe there are multitudes of unrecorded cases due to the country’s low testing rate. This densely populated nation has the lowest number of administered tests out of any other comparable economy. However, Indonesia has recently come closer to meeting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) testing target. This may be the cause of the spike in recorded cases in late 2020, demonstrating that the situation in the country is still largely out of control.
Medical Field Impediments
Unfortunately, although testing is becoming increasingly accessible, many experts still consider tests administered in Indonesia unreliable. According to the Wall Street Journal, most hospitalizations rely on tests done via rapid antibody testing as opposed to a saliva test (PCR), which is considered the standard by the CDC. Medical professionals in the country claim the reason behind the lack of adequate testing is the lack of essential resources. Due to high demand, acquiring testing kits and modern testing machines is becoming increasingly difficult for hospitals in developing countries. The shortage does not stop at supplies, however. Trained personnel are also diminishing.
Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 150 doctors have passed away due to COVID-19 in Indonesia. Ari Kusuma Januarto, an official from the Indonesian Doctors Association, pressed the nation to take initiative in the fight against the pandemic for the sake of its healthcare workers, stating, “This situation will never be resolved if there is no cooperation from people as being the vanguard…”
Indonesian Women vs COVID-19
Although the pandemic has been difficult for the nation as a whole, it has impacted women especially. Across the nation, women have been disproportionately fired and put on furlough while taking on more household responsibilities as children are kept at home. Additionally, women-led households account for only 15% of the population and are much more likely to have inadequate access to clean water, good personal hygiene and ample space. Women are also at a higher risk of catching the disease due to unequal car ownership distribution. Public transit, the alternative to driving, presents a significant risk of infection.
The impact of COVID-19 in Indonesia has not gone unnoticed by the humanitarian sector. Nonprofit organizations such as Give2Asia, Care and humankindNOW are sending funds, volunteers and resources to the archipelago to fight the coronavirus and its effects on the country. With the proper resources, precautions and assistance, Indonesia will begin its path to restabilization and recovery.
– Amanda J Godfrey