Protection of Vulnerable Groups in COVID-19 Response in Central Sulawesi

The recovery process is still going on after the earthquake, liquefaction and tsunami that occurred on September 28 2018, but the survivors in Central Sulawesi began to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Survivors cannot optimally comply with government recommendations in efforts to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 outbreak, for example by staying at home or maintaining distance. Most of the survivors found it very difficult to meet their daily needs. Moreover, the majority who live in temporary shelters (huntara) work as casual laborers who only rely on daily profits. This condition forces them to keep working and go outside the house to meet their daily needs.

Some initiatives have been done by the Regional Government such as Agency of Industry and Trade of Palu City, which has activated the Online Market  in the hope that people do not need to go to the market to fulfill their needs, but they are able to directly contact the sellers registered in the online market. This was welcomed quite well by traders and the public. In addition, on 16 April 2020 the Central Sulawesi Regional Government has also added a list of COVID-19 referral hospitals to 12 referrals and support hospitals through the Central Sulawesi Governor Circular Letter No. 443/141 / DIS-KES on Prevention and Anticipation of Spread COVID-19 in Central Sulawesi. The referral hospitals include Undata Palu Hospital, Palu Madani Hospital, Anutapura Palu Hospital, Wirabuana Hospital Palu, Bhayangkara Hospital Palu, Alkhairaat Hospital Palu, Samaritan Palu Hospital, Wood Ward Palu Hospital, Budi Agung Palu Hospital, Mokopido Tolitoli Hospital, Kolonodale Hospital North Morowali, and Luwuk Banggai District Hospital.

COVID19 measurement and humanitarian support were also carried out by the YAKKUM Emergency Unit in Central Sulawesi. This humanitarian support was carried out for older people, people with disability and PLWHA who are members of the Peer Support Group and Older People Associations in 5 Villages scattered in some districts after the disaster that occurred in 2018 ago. This support aims to ensure that the older people, people with disability and PLWHA able to fulfil their basic needs, obtain clear and easy-to-understand information related to COVID-19 and are able to make independent prevention efforts both for themselves and their environment.

With the support of CBM, HelpAge International, and Christian Aid, YEU has distributed hygiene kits (buckets, soap, antiseptic tissue), installed 14 sink units as hand washing facilities that are accessible to the community, 342 packages of vegetable seeds for the older people as well as people with disability for planting in their own home garden, 535 food packages consisting of rice, cooking oil, sugar, tea, eggs, soy sauce and herbs, as well as dissemination of information related to COVID-19 which is realized by printing and distributing 443 educational posters (Cough Ethics, 7 Steps to Washing Hands, and Information about COVID-19) both in local and Indonesian languages.

When met by YEU in mid-March, an elderly in Ngatabaru - Sigi village once expressed her concern if there is an elderly sick while the distance from the village to the Puskesmas was around 7 km and midwife visits also began to be limited. For this reason, support for access to health checks and medications is also a part of this COVID-19 response service. Some time ago, WHO mentioned that PLWHA using antiretroviral drugs must ensure that they have at least 30 days of ARVs and ensure that their vaccinations are up to date (influenza and pneumococcal vaccines).[1]. Not only PLWHA, elderly and people with disabilities with a history of chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and hypertension) also need to be supported to ensure routine medication and control including therapy so that treatment and recovery are not interrupted.

The COVID-19 outbreak certainly has a significant impact on society, however efforts to prevent and disseminate correct and clear information need to be continued to minimize the wider transmission as well as to reduce the fear or anxiety that is commonly felt in situations like today.