Being Agile Against the Pandemic

Only a day after declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic (11/3/2020), director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, sent a letter to President Jokowi. The WHO asked that President Jokowi immediately declare a national emergency; build a laboratory of adequate scale; expand case search, tracking, monitoring and careful data collection; and intensify preventive measures, including by encouraging people to wash their hands frequently. However, this is an “exasperated” response on the part of WHO to see Indonesia’s response, which was considered too relaxed. For more than two months, the Health Ministry boasted a zero status of positive COVID-19 cases. However, on Monday (2/3/2020), two weeks ago, the defense was broken. The President announced that two Indonesian citizens had tested positive for COVID-19. There was a Japanese citizen visiting Indonesia, then continuing to Singapore. A careful examination in Singapore confirmed that the Japanese had tested positive for COVID-19. Tracking was later conducted in Indonesia on someone who made contact with the Japanese citizen. The person was found and tested positive for being infected, then the President announced it.

Hope from Blood Plasma

The super-virus that causes COVID-19 in Indonesia is taking more and more victims and is estimated to have not yet reached its peak. In the midst of this difficulty is some good news, like a light at the end of the tunnel. The Eijkman Institute of Molecular Biology immediately started the treatment of COVID-19 patients using blood plasma from patients who have been declared healthy. This method can be called plasma recovery. On Monday (20/4/2020), head of the Eijkman Institute of Molecular Biology Amin Subandrio said his agency, with the support of the Food and Drug Agency (Badan POM) and the Health Ministry, was ready to implement the plasma recovery method treatment in the coming weeks. On Tuesday (28/4), Kompas reported, state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Biopharma and Gatot Soebroto Army Hospital joined in this fast-moving innovation.

Coronavirus Turns over Immunity into Weapon that Backfires

How does this virus attack the human body, and why can it cause victims to die very quickly – in 4 to 7 days? In patients with HIV/AIDS it generally takes years to become fatal.   Why is this new type of coronavirus so deadly? How does this virus attack the human body, and why can it cause victims to die very quickly – in 4 to 7 days? In patients with HIV/AIDS it generally takes years to become fatal. If HIV/AIDS is like a guerrilla war, Covid-19 destroys victims in a blitzkrieg. The damage caused is described in a video circulating in social media. Doctor Keith Mortman, head of thoracic surgery at George Washington University Hospital, used 3D modeling to show how quickly Covid-19 attacks the lungs, from the stage of flooding the alveoli to the stage where the lungs stop functioning. The whole process from the beginning of the infection up to lung failure only takes a week if the patient has no immunity. “I want people to see this and understand what can be done. People need to take this seriously,” he says in the video.

Industry 4.0 and Health Services

President Jokowi has chosen Dr. Terawan Agus Putranto as the health minister for the second term of his administration. What is the direction of the Health Ministry’s health policy to answer challenges in the future? Before getting there, it is better for us to review the achievements of the health sector over the past five years. The most monumental breakthrough of the first period of Jokowi’s administration was the application of national health insurance through the Social Security Management Agency (BPJS). This is arguably a revolutionary policy in the health sector. Nevertheless, this policy still bears serious problems. The main problem that has not been resolved until now is the overdraft of BPJS financing. Hundreds of partner hospitals have not been paid by BPJS, causing some to go bankrupt. The commotion of the BPJS deficit has colored news throughout the year. Indonesia has the second highest prevelance in ASEAN (under Timor Leste) in terms of the number of stunted children due to lack of nutrition. This is certainly not something to be proud of.

Responding to the Pandemic Modeling

Ratna Megawangi’s article, “Coronavirus and Panic Statistics” (Kompas, 20/6/2020), is interesting to discuss. The article comments on the prediction of the spread of the coronavirus by mathematical modeling, as widely presented by experts.   In particular, Ratna reviewed predictions made by Dr. Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, an epidemiologist who from the start was keen to suggest that a lockdown be implemented in England. With the mathematical modeling he made, in mid-March Ferguson predicted the death toll due to the coronavirus in the UK would reach 510,000 people if no lockdown was tightly applied. This prediction is what makes many parties panic. According to Ratna, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who initially believed in the herd immunity scenario, eventually shifted to trusting Ferguson to apply the regional quarantine alias total lockdown. And, the fact was that, as of Wednesday (24/6/2020), Worldometer data recorded the number of positive cases in the UK at 306,210, of whom 42,927 had died. It is very low compared to the 510,000 infections according to Ferguson’s prediction if the lockdown was not implemented.