Promoting Efforts for Inclusive COVID-19 Response Services
Established in 1997, Paguyuban Difabel Sehati Sukoharjo has a vision and mission to form character for differently abled persons to be self-reliant and have the capacity to participate in development. With support from Program Peduli in implementing organizing activities for diffable groups through self-help groups at the village and subdistrict levels, as well as activities to encourage services and policies that are inclusive for the diffable, Sehati successfully initiated the issuance of District Head Regulation No. 76 of 2018 concerning Healthcare Financing Assistance for Persons with Social Welfare Problems and Non-BDT (Integrated Database) Disaster Victims and District Head Regulation No. 3 of 2019 concerning Implementation Instructions for Sukoharjo District Regional Regulation No. 18 of 2017 concerning Persons with Disabilities.
Since the designation of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, Sehati has continued its efforts to promote and provide health care services that are inclusive for the diffable and other vulnerable groups in Sukoharjo. Sukoharjo is one of the locations with the largest number of COVID-19 positive patients in Greater Solo and among the five locations with the largest numbers of COVID positive patients in Central Java. In May 2020, the Head of Sukoharjo District declared the district to be under Extraordinary Occurrence (Kejadian Luar Biasa, KLB) status because the number of positive patients was continuing to rise. The various policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as physical distancing and limitations on mobility, also affect the economic lives of the diffable and their families. In the midst of this situation, the Sukoharjo District Government has undertaken various efforts to respond to COVID-19. One of these is the establishment of Rumah Sehat COVID-19 as a field hospital for handling and treating COVID-19 positive patients.
Although Indonesia has policies for handling, protection, and participation of persons with disabilities in disaster mitigation based on Regulation of the Head of BNPB (National Disaster Management Agency) No. 14 of 2014, both the national government and local governments often neglect to ensure that the emergency response to COVID-19 is inclusive for the diffable. Therefore, to ensure inclusive health care services at Rumah Sehat COVID-19 Sukoharjo, Sehati provides training to the Rumah Sehat personnel concerning how to interact with visually diffable patients, especially in serving food and providing spatial orientation. Sehati is doing this because one visually diffable patient who was confirmed as positive did not receive health care services in line with this patient’s special needs.
In addition, to support protection and provision of services for vulnerable groups in the response to COVID-19, Sehati also established a Command Post for the Elderly, Disabled, and Other Vulnerable Groups (Pos Komando Lansia, Disabilitas, dan kelompok Rentan lainnya, Posko LDR), such as women heads of households and Persons with HIV and AIDS, at the Sehati Secretariat. This Posko functions to assist in disseminating information about COVID-19 to the diffable and other vulnerable groups. The Posko also provides special services such as peer counseling and assistance to families of diffable persons who are undergoing isolation and quarantine. One type of complaint that is often received by Sehati is about diffable children who throw tantrums because they are constantly kept inside the home. In this situation, the parents often panic and do not know what they should do to calm their children. Through communication media such as a WhatsApp group, Posko LDR Sehati shares children’s stories to reduce their tantrums while at home. In addition, Posko LDR Sehati also provides assistance for residents who are rejected by their neighbors or those nearby because they have recently returned from abroad.
As well as providing counseling and assistance, Posko LDR Sehati also conducts verification and validation of data on the diffable. This is done because the Posko often receives complaints from diffable persons who do not receive aid from the Social Safety Net (Jaring Pengaman Sosial, JPS). From these complaints, Posko LDR Sehati has verified and validated data of 3,400 diffable households based on Family Cards and Single Identity Numbers in Sukoharjo. This data was then conveyed to the Social Welfare Service for access to assistance from the JPS program initiated by the government. The data were also submitted to the Village Community Empowerment Service, parties assisting the villages, and expert village assistance personnel so that the diffable and families that have not received JPS assistance can access Direct Cash Assistance (Bantuan Langsung Tunai, BLT) derived from the village funds.
Through Posko LDR, Sehati has also opened up opportunities for profit-making institutions in Sukoharjo District such as PT Sritex, the herbal medicine company PT Gujati, and also mass organizations concerned with vulnerable groups to provide donations and aid. Posko LDR Sehati then distributed the aid that was collected to 903 diffable persons in 12 subdistricts in Sukoharjo. The aid that was provided includes face masks, basic foodstuffs, hand sanitizer, hand washing equipment, adult diapers, packages of food for children, and cash, with donations totaling Rp 128 million. The parties that contributed the aid include Komunitas Satu Hati Klaten, Ranting Aisyiyah Tawangsari, Gerakan Pramuka Sukoharjo, Komunitas Jol Ijolan Solo, PT Sritex, PT Gujati, and CSR of Bank Indonesia.
Mainstreaming Gender and Children in the Response to COVID-19
Posko LDR is a form of the effort to mainstream gender and children in the response to COVID-19. The vulnerable groups aided by the Posko include women heads of households, diffable children, and Persons with HIV and AIDS. In providing protection assistance to women, Sehati works together with the organization Solidaritas Perempuan untuk Kemanusiaan dan Hak Asasi Manusia (SPEK-HAM, Women’s Solidarity for Humanity and Human Rights) for complaints about domestic violence during the pandemic. This service takes the form of referrals to SPEK-HAM when there are complaints from residents, but to date no one has yet used this service. For children, Sehati provides services to parents of participants in inclusive workshops through assistance to their children who have tantrums because their therapy has been halted during the pandemic.
Learnings and Opportunities for Sustainability
The Posko LDR initiated by Sehati has provided a different nuance in Sukoharjo with an inclusive response to COVID-19. Posko LDR has received recognition from the regional government, specifically when Sehati successfully performed verification and validation of the data of 3,400 diffable households for access to social welfare assistance. The data gathered by Sehati was received and used by the local and village governments in determining the policies on distribution of aid. The complaint command post, peer counseling, and provision of information aimed at the diffable and other vulnerable groups have also provided data and information to the local government regarding the lack of accessibility in the COVID-19 response. In addition, four diffable persons have been involved in the COVID-19 Task Forces at the village level, and 130 diffable persons whose data was verified and validated by Posko LDR Sehati have now received social welfare assistance from the district and the villages.
Sehati’s success in providing inclusive services in the COVID-19 response is influenced by several aspects, including the following:
- The journey of Program Peduli since 2015, which has promoted Sukoharjo District to become a district with the “inclusive village” model in more than 50 villages. Sehati’s work in promoting these inclusive villages made it easy for Sehati to gather the diffable and their families through a survey on the impact of COVID-19. In addition, the relationships previously built with the village governments sped up Sehati’s communication in conducting an inclusive response to COVID-19.
- Apart from the inclusive villages themselves, Sehati also played a major role in drafting the District Head Regulation on Inclusive Villages. In this drafting, Sehati coordinated extensively with the ranks of the local government, such as the Village Community Empowerment Service, Social Welfare Service, and Health Service. This provided an entry point for Sehati to influence the policy on provision of social assistance, especially to the diffable and other vulnerable groups.
- In 2019, Sehati produced a guide on inclusive health care services at Community Health Centers (Puskesmas) which has been ratified by the Sukoharjo District Health Service and is used by all Puskesmas in Sukoharjo. This achievement made it easier for Sehati to provide capacity building to Rumah Sehat COVID-19 in building an inclusive healthcare service system for the diffable and other vulnerable groups.
- The existence of relations between Sehati and the private sector, which have been built since Program Peduli started running in Sukoharjo. These relations made it easy for Sehati to gain trust and credibility to distribute aid derived from companies’ CSR.
Although Posko LDR has contributed to an inclusive response to COVID-19, one challenge that is faced in this process is the fact that Sehati is not included in the District Task Force Team for the Response to COVID-19. The structure of the task force currently only comprises elements from the government, although there has been an instruction from the President regarding participation of elements of civil society in the task force structure. Thus far, the strategy employed by Sehati has been to coordinate with the chair of the District Task Force with regard to data and information on the impact of COVID-19 on the diffable and other vulnerable groups. This situation shows that no matter how good the regulations that are prepared, implementation of the regulations still requires oversight from civil society organizations of the network of diffable organizations so that the regulations are in fact carried out. Therefore, the role and participation of CSOs and DPO is essential, and they should be included in the structure of the COVID-19 task force teams that are formed and ratified by the government. The principle “Nothing About Us Without Us” is key in the inclusive response to COVID-19.
This protracted pandemic enables Sehati to continue to contribute in inclusive COVID-19 services, specifically to ensure that the government’s policies on the plans for the emergency response to and recovery from COVID-19 are truly inclusive. To achieve this, work conducted together with the government, such as joint monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the activities of Posko LDR and studies on the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups, constitutes the work plan that is proposed by Sehati so that Posko LDR’s activities can continue in Sukoharjo.