Responding to COVID-19: Priority of protection for most at-risk groups

Two medical personnels wearing the PPEs which were distributed by ASB during door-to-door body temperature checking in Baluase, Central Sulawesi
While it is true that the novel coronavirus is spreading indiscriminately, it is also undoubted that some people are at higher risks in this calamity due to epidemiology or socio-economic factors. Older persons are more likely to have some sorts of comorbidity which increases the possibility of a severe complication when contracted with COVID-19. Persons with disabilities, who mostly work in informal sectors, are dealing with a greater threat of serious economic impacts. Responding to this situation, ASB collaborates with local organisations of persons with disabilities (OPD) from several districts in Indonesia to distribute relief items to most at-risk groups. The activities were carried out in April – May 2020.
The distribution in Sukoharjo, Central Java, was carried out by Sehati, a local OPD which is currently operating a service center to help older persons, persons with disabilities, and other at-risk community members during the pandemic. 30 volunteers were involved in distributing relief items of staple food and hygiene kit to 200 households of persons with disabilities or older persons. While distributing door-to-door, the volunteers also delivering psychosocial supports to the recipients, many of whom felt more excluded from the community during this pandemic.
Still in Central Java, ASB distributed hygiene kits and food items to 70 households in Magelang District. 39 households among the number have family member(s) who are living with disabilities, and the other 31 households have family member(s) who are older persons. During the distribution which was undertaken by Warsamundung, a local OPD in Magelang, dissemination of COVID-19 prevention measures information was also conducted. Circulating this essential information was crucial considering that some of the 70 households stated that they have difficulties accessing public information due to various factors, including limited capability to access and understand formal information available in online communication platforms.
The distribution of relief items in East Nusa Tenggara Province was led by inclusive disaster management teams at village level.  The teams delivered 80 packages of staple and hygiene kit to two villages, Oesena in Kupang District and Kuatae in Timor Tengah Selatan District.
In Central Sulawesi, ASB works together with the Working Group of OPD in Palu, Sigi, Donggala (Pokja OPDis Pasigala) to reach most at-risk communities in two districts, Sigi and Donggala. Small packages of hand soap were handed out to 1,300 households in three villages in both districts. 361 packages of staple and hygiene kit were also distributed to all households in Ape Maliko Village, Donggala, as well as 25 members of Pokja OPDis Pasigala.
Not only in reaching out to community members, Pokja OPDis Pasigala also took lead in distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) packages for 3 public health centers. This was done in response to the scarcity of PPE supplies for health care workers, especially the ones who works at community level health centers.
ASB believes that priority protection for the most at-risk groups is a key indicator of an effective emergency response, particularly in this pandemic. Promotion and sensitization on the importance of inclusive response have been continuously undertaken at various levels. In Central Sulawesi, ASB facilitates the involvement of Pokja OPDis Pasigala in the provincial COVID-19 Task Force. Pokja OPDis Pasigala is currently leading the coordination for a sub-cluster for older persons, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. ASB also collaborates with other organisations at national level to develop communication materials and recommendations document to stimulate and foster inclusive implementation of COVID-19 response. The recommendations can be found here.
Inclusion will merely be a notion if the most at-risk groups only play as receivers of the response. Throughout ASB’s response activities, local OPDs have been a living evidence of leadership and capacity. “Nothing about us without us” is an impeccable principle in providing priority protection for the most at-risk groups. (Rizma Kristiana)

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