In July, Indonesia recorded its highest daily numbers of Covid-19 cases, making it the epicentre of the global pandemic, ahead of India and Brazil. The daily peak of 55,000 cases in mid-July, though shocking, only represented cases confirmed by PCR testing and reported by the government in its national tally. For many epidemiologists and other observers of Indonesia’s pandemic over the past one and half years, this surge was no surprise. Experts have long warned that Covid-19 cases and deaths in Indonesia are vastly undercounted and underreported and have expressed concerns about data transparency.
Volunteer organisations are among those seeking to provide a more complete picture of the escalating health crisis in Indonesia. One of the most prominent is LaporCovid-19. Established in early 2020, and comprised of scientists, public health experts and journalists, it has a particular focus on the collection of data through an innovative crowdsourcing platform. It regularly lobbies government for greater transparency in its pandemic response, and for equity in the vaccination program. LaporCovid-19 was recently joint recipient of the Tasrif Award from the Indonesian Journalists Alliance (AJI), for bravely defending the public interest and demanding greater data transparency in the face of opposition.
What motivates this group of experts and volunteers to challenge the government? What are the implications for Indonesia if it continues to get the numbers wrong? In Talking Indonesia this week, Jemma Purdey talks to Dr Irma Hidayana, a public health expert and co-founder of LaporCovid-19.
In 2021, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Jemma Purdey from the Australia-Indonesia Centre, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Annisa Beta from the University of Melbourne’s School of Culture and Communication, and Dr Charlotte Setijadi from Singapore Management University.
Fundraising campaigns to support of Indonesia’s pandemic crisis: https://australiaindonesia.com/coronavirus/fundraisers/