marginalized people knowledge about covid 19

By Kayla Clemson

With the emergency PPKM being extended even longer, the ramifications of COVID-19 in Indonesia are increasingly becoming more troubling. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2019 it has plunged more than 1.3 million people in Indonesia into poverty and caused a major economic crisis, not just for Indonesia but the whole world. The Indonesian government has put in place a COVID-19 Task force that focuses on the KPCPEN Two-pronged model. This particular model focuses on committee work in cutting down disease transmission and economic growth and recovery through a form of social protection mechanism.

The LeaN On Project (Mercy Corps Indonesia), is a project focused on investing in human capital for disaster management and did research focusing on the target population and their knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in regards to COVID-19 in Indonesia. Research done on it was about knowledge on basic safety protocols (washings hands, using masks maintaining social distancing), what the usual clinical signs of COVID-19 are and where to search for proper medical help if infected with COVID-19.

Marginalized communities such as sex workers, street children/youth, transwomen, and people living with HIV are in particularly suffering a hard time with various discriminations that become more vulnerable during such disastrous situations. For example, without proper identification medical support is inaccessible to them and it has been shown that transwomen in particular, even with proper identification are being discriminated against when it comes to receiving medical treatment.

In research done by LeaN ON Project 418 people in vulnerable communities were surveyed, results showed that those of lower education or received no education had a much below average score about knowledge surrounding COVID-19. In fact, 11% of people that responded thought that COVID-19 did not exist. With miscommunication causing chaos during this pandemic people of lower socio-economic status with a lack of education are unsure what to believe, there is bound to be a “knowledge gap” for these people. The LeaN ON Project has assumed to be helping more vulnerable communities “believe” in the pandemic but with information scattered and existing beliefs from cultural upbringings and rumors there is still a lot of misinformation spreading throughout vulnerable communities.

Even though much has been done through the LeaN ON Project there is still much that needs to be done to support and educate people from vulnerable communities. Organizations such has Harapan Fian work hard to educate and help those vulnerable communities, but it is not enough. Attention must be shown to the vulnerable population of Indonesia and how equalized health is not the current situation right now. Support is such a crucial necessity for vulnerable communities and is in need of much more support.

About the author: Kayla Clemson is currently enrolled at Murdoch University pursuing her degree in Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology. She is highly interested in health, education, mental health, and gender issues. Kayla is currently undertaking the virtual internship program at Harapan Fian (Fian’s Hope) with the ACICIS 2021 Virtual DevelopmentStudies Professional Practicum. Kayla received New Colombo Plan mobility grant to support her participation on this program.