COVID-19 Op-ed

Indonesian Social Care Institutions: Potential Death Chambers in the midst of Covid-19

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Fadel BasriantoResearch
Associate, Indonesian Mental Health Association

People with Psychosocial Disabilities (PwPD)- those who are
diagnosed with mental health conditions—are currently facing restrictions in
the exercise of their rights, specifically those detained in social care
institutions or mental rehabilitation centers. They are considered as a group
at high risk of being infected by the novel coronavirus in Indonesia. Without
government support and targeted policies, these social care institutions may
quickly turn into a death chamber. In Jakarta alone, which is considered as
the epicenter of the outbreak, there are around 2500 PwPDs trapped in
government and private social care institutions. In Bekasi, a nearby city,
 city around Jakarta, hundreds more who are confined and on lockdown
(Muryono & Riswan, 2019.)Like most Indonesians, PwPDs are not fully
aware of the causes and impacts of Covid-19 outbreak throughout the country.
They are at the end of the line when it comes to accessing information. They
are not allowed to own mobile phones. Furthermore, many insitutions where
they reside do not have televisions and newspapers available for their
patients.In mid-March 2020, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered everyone
living in the country to practice physical distancing as a measure to supress
infections. Unfortunately, the current situation in social care institutions
contradicts directives of the government in avoiding the further spread of
the virus . Many PwPDs are still locked up in a crowded room, which breaks
the whole principle of physical distancing. In many institutions, a 150 sq. m
ward that has a typically accommodates around 30-50 people. Furthermore,
in some institutions, especially private institutions, residents are not
allowed to go out from their ward apart from mealtimes (Damayanti, et all,
2020).Another key directive is the promotion of personal hygiene. The
Government appeals to all to practice hand washing in order to counter
COVID-19. Basic personal hygiene is a serious concern in many social care
institutions in Indonesia. Some residents find it difficult to use the toilet
properly and even taking a bath As a matter of fact that, Galuh
Rehabilitation Center residents in Bekasi do all their daily activities in
the same ward (Damayanti, et all, 2020).In terms of diet and nutrition, it
has been reported that many residents are left to starve. Some institutions
management just provide food which not adequate with their calories needed
(Damayanti, et all, 2020).Article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states that governments should take all
necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with
disabilities in situations of risk. Covid-19 is a great test to this
provision. It is the right of a person with disability to be treated with
dignity and to be able to access basic services. In this case, the Indonesian
government has so much to fulfill in order to protect such right. First, it
should monitor institutions and make them accountable for their policies and
actions. They must be able to control the number of residents that they
accommodate and be able to promote basic hygiene at all times.The Indonesian
government is responsible for every human being within its territory. It
should also financial and technical support to concerned families in order
for them to take care of their relatives with psychosocial disabilities
during the health crisis. Otherwise, it should provide more facilities that
can efficiently accommodate patients.  Lastly, the Government must
ensure that everyone are able to access services for better nutrition as well
as be well informed about directives for public compliance against the spread
of Covid-19.This has to be done swiftly, otherwise, social care institutions
will start turning into death chambers— a situation no one wants to
happen.References:Muryono, S., & Kuntum Khaira
Riswan. (2019, March 19). Bina Laras Jakarta treats 2,535 people with
psychosocial disabilities. Accessed April 9th 2020 via,
Yeni Rosa. Et all. (2020). The Forgotten People: Alternative Report
to UN CRPD Committee on the Situation of Perple with Psychosocial Disability
in Indonesia 2020
, Jakarta: Indonesian Mental Health Association.

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