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”We Are Tired”: Rising COVID-19 Cases Take Toll on Health Workers’ Mental State

JAKARTA - As frontline health workers diligently track COVID-19 to stem its spread among the community, many found themselves swamped in excessive fatigue and stress.

The dire situation was directly reported to the monitoring and evaluation team of the Executive Office of the President (KSP) during a 7-days verification program to solve problems that hinder the distribution of medical oxygen, anti-COVID-19 medicines and COVID-19 vaccines to the public.

“The peak of the pandemic in June-July made us exhausted. But all the health workers here have been committed to keep on going, because we are the closest to the people around here,” said dr. Christina br. Ginting, Head of Wanasari community health centers (puskesmas) in Bekasi, West Java, on Friday (30/7).

Contact tracing is an effort to identify people who come into contact with positive Covid-19 patients. The purpose of contact tracing is to control and prevent the spread of the virus on a larger scale.

This effort must not stop even though the COVID-19 daily cases are seen decreasing. Likewise, the public should not be permissive and begin to loosen the discipline of health protocols.

However, efforts to suppress the rate of virus transmission are not without obstacles, especially for health workers. In addition to monitoring the strict implementation of health protocols at the neighborhood units (RT) and community units (RW) level, health workers from puskesmas have to face difficulties in convincing patients or those who have close contact with patients to carry out COVID-19 tests.

“There are still many people who refuse to take tests. If this is the case, like it or not, health workers from the puskesmas must come to them and persuade them one by one,” said Abraham Wirotomo, KSP Senior Advisor.

As reported on the field, if there was a patient tested positive of COVID-19, the health workers would trace at least 15 people who have had close contact with the patient. On the other hand, human resources in puskesmas are very limited, causing health workers to experience extreme fatigue.

Thus, it is not uncommon for puskesmas to rely on cooperation with volunteers or initiatives from local RT/RW residents.

"Empowering surrounding residents can be one solution to strengthen tracing efforts, helping those health workers who are starting to get tired. The more volunteers, the better. Although, this still requires monitoring from the local health center, “added Abraham.

The government has pledged to ramp up mass testing, tracing, and treatment across several to push fast recovery in the country.

Not to forget, the government is also intensifying the vaccine acceleration program to establish herd immunity. Speaking of vaccines, KSP found that several vaccine centers began to report vaccine supply shortages.

"The President has repeatedly said to immediately deplete the existing vaccine stock. Don't hold back. The government guarantees the vaccines’ availability to be safe until the end of the year. The vaccines will be sent to our country gradually,” continued Abraham.

The government continues to strive for the availability of COVID-19 vaccine stocks by bringing in vaccines from various channels and countries. The government again brought in 21.2 million doses of Sinovac vaccine raw materials that arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, on Tuesday (27/7).

Indonesia has secured at least 440 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine until the end of 2021. “However, we need to be grateful that the number of positive cases is decreasing. Queues of patients at health care centers are also no longer visible. The stock of drugs and oxygen are also under control," said Abraham

The KSP team ended the 7-days verification program to several provinces in Java on Saturday (31/7). The program which was initiated by the office also aims to solve problems that hinder the distribution of medical oxygen, therapeutic medicines and COVID-19 vaccines to the public.