Banggai was the first district of Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi Province to be hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. Local health facilities such as hospitals and community health centres faced major problems following health protocols introduced by the Ministry of Health due to a lack in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This meant that health workers working on the frontline of hospitals and other health institutions were not properly protected from contracting COVID-19.
The administrative process required to allocate money from the district budget for the procurement of PPE through the regional government is time-consuming. Subsequently, the Banggai District Health Office (DHO) decided to accelerate the provision of funding for PPE by collaborating with other sectors and utilizing corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds. The DHO cooperated with private companies (primarily from the banking sector), civil society, public figures, and local businesses to identify and allocate money towards PPE provision. A network between big cities in Indonesia as well as cities abroad was also utilized to find companies with available CSR funds.
Specific issues addressed and anticipated impact
The program aimed to ensure sufficient supplies of PPE for frontline health workers in Banggai District, especially at the beginning of the pandemic when PPE was particularly difficult to obtain.
Since the start of the cooperation program in March 2020, Banggai District has received assistance from the private sector and civil society in the form of 59,372 units of PPE (as at beginning of September 2020). This included materials such as hazmat suits, N95 masks, face shields, gloves, and other items.
Banggai District Health Office involved several stakeholders into the project, including companies like Joint Operation Body (JOB) Tomori, Donggi Senoro LNG Company, Sulawesi Multi Vegetable P.T., PT. Pertamina EP, and PT. 11 miles away. From civil society, Banggai DHO worked with Ko Sin Family Association, Rumah Zakat Foundation, female entrepreneur Shieny Hartanto, Bungku Raya Family Harmony (KKBR), the extended family of Datu Adam, and youtube artist Atta Halilintar.
Apart from the problems finding funds to allocate to PPE, the Banggai DHO also faced difficulties regarding the quality of PPE obtained. Many different donors contributed PPE to Banggai’s stockpile; subsequently, the PPE was not all from the same producer and thus did not always fulfil the World Health Organization’s standards. To avoid such problems and minimize the risk of useless donations, a verification team for PPE was established. This team consisted of health workers with the competences to verify whether supplied equipment could be used or not.
Another challenge is the increasing need for PPE. As the pandemic continues, the demand for equipment grows constantly. At the same time, company funds are limited. This raises questions about the sustainability of this approach. So far, one strategy is to constantly search for new donors. The longer the pandemic lasts though, the more reluctant people are to donate.