Occupational Health and Safety: Protecting the Indonesian Healthcare Workforce during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Indonesia has one of the highest rates of death for healthcare workers from COVID-19 in the world, with the national medical association estimating the toll is at least 718 by early March 2021.
The majority of the deaths have been doctors and nurses, and this is a grim fact in a country with an already low number of healthcare professionals to serve the population.
Infection rates among a range of healthcare workers are also high, and this report finds that healthcare institutions need to urgently address the hazards and gaps in their systems to help bring these numbers down. It has identified some critical areas for attention to reduce the risk of transmission and better protect staff who are working in an often stressful and tiring environment, and recommends that more can be done to evaluate vulnerable points and take appropriate prevention and control measures.
The health and wellbeing of these essential frontline workers must be protected so they can continue to combat the effects of COVID-19 in the broader community.
This research examines the implementation of – and compliance with – Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policies in Indonesian hospitals during COVID-19. It highlights opportunities to improve the OHS of the country’s healthcare workers, and offers lessons that can be applied around the globe. Researchers conducted 23 semistructured, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders from hospitals in Surabaya through virtual channels. Respondents belonged to three Class A hospitals, five Class B hospitals, one Class C hospital, one Class D hospital and two community health centres/clinics engaged in treating COVID-19 patients. Researchers analysed interview transcripts to decipher key themes. The report’s findings focus on the general conditions of health facilities in Indonesia, OHS policy development and implementation, awareness of – and adherence to – OHS policy, challenges encountered by stakeholders, and procedures for handling infected patients and staff.
Ultimately, the research informed seven key recommendations to reduce the risks for healthcare workers during COVID-19:
- Minimise transmission of the virus at critical points in hospitals.
- Improve screening and testing processes to identify infected individuals more rapidly.
- Improve contact tracing processes and create accurate, real-time reporting systems.
- Ensure that physical facilities and the environment facilitate infection prevention.
- Provide ongoing training to staff regarding risk mitigation.
- Supervise and monitor adherence to infection control protocols.
- Evaluate the psychological and physical impacts on healthcare personnel who are working in the pandemic context.
Photo at top: The Conversation Indonesia