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Issue To Watch: US Steps Up To Assist Indonesia


Commentary by Wayne Forrest

The worldwide COVID outbreak hits all countries but affects them differently. The US, with arguably one of the best medical and pharmaceutical sectors has the capacity to push it way back but not necessarily the full trust of its citizens in vaccines. Australia and New Zealand had the capacity to fully lock down and send needed funds to its residents without having to vaccinate all its residents but is now playing catch up. Indonesia could do neither and developed a hybrid program where partial lock-downs have been mixed with a vaccination program. With 60% of its workforce dependent on day wages and many not registered in the government’s database, keeping people home and sending funds electronically is virtually impossible. It wasn’t perfect but some progress was being made until the Delta variant exploded in July with a force equal to or greater than what occurred in India in May. Now a COVID epicenter, Indonesia’s healthcare system is close to a breaking point as only 11% of its people have been vaccinated.

On August 2 the US government announced an additional $30 million to purchase additional oxygen, enhance vaccine roll-out, and provide medical supplies to help Indonesia treat current Delta spike and its aftermath. $9 million is earmarked for oxygen concentrators to be distributed primarily by UNICEF. The US has now donated $65 million to Indonesia, shipped 1,000 ventilators, and as major donor to COVAX helped ship 11 million doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine.

The US private sector is also assisting Indonesia via a “ready-to-go” private/public task force organized in April that mustered in-kind contributions of drugs, oxygen, and other medical equipment for India. The Global Task Force on Pandemic Response GTF) includes CEOs from over 30 companies and is now focusing on Indonesia and southeast Asia. Representing AICC I am joining daily conference calls with the task force and colleagues at the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-ASEAN Business Council helping to make the right judgments and connections so that private sector donations match with US government assistance. Indonesia has provided a list of what would be helpful: oxygen (canisters, generating equipment, liquid oxygen, and concentrators), home health kits, and diagnostics. With adequate supplies of all these materials as many as 90% of COVID patients can be cared for at home. The coordination, tracking, and matching of pledges, in-kind contributions is being handled by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which has formed a dedicated team that is applying lessons learned in India. Their website portals, listed below, will get any company started quickly. And individuals can also contribute to any of the organizations listed below.

I urge you to get involved.

How You Can Help


Corporate In-Kind Donations: If your company is looking to make large quantities of in-kind donations to support Indonesia’s COVID response, Click here to submit your information get the process rolling.

(The opinions expressed here are the writer’s and do not necessarily represent those of AICC or its members.)