Dilemma of Prioritising Health and the Economy During COVID-19 Pandemic in Indonesia

Siti Setiati, Muhammad K Azwar


Since the detection of the first confirmed case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in early March 2020, 248,852 cases have been detected in Indonesia by 21 September 2020. At least 100 doctors have died from COVID-19 nationwide. Full large-scale social restriction was a temporary measure, followed by an early transition to the new normal era during the never-ending first wave in the country. Workers in industrial, retail, transport, and tourism fields suffered a significant decrease in work. Many countries are, however, in dilemma of protecting the health of the citizens and prioritising economy. Health should be prioritised because it is an important aspect of our lives for our economy. Poor health is estimated to reduce global gross domestic product (GDP) by 15% annually through premature deaths and potential loss of productivity of the working-age citizens. Pandemics also depress economy through decrease in both supply and demand. Data from flu pandemic a century ago suggested the importance of aggressiveness and speed of intervention. Taiwan’s early action led to beneficial effects on SARS-CoV-2 infection rate and economy recovery. The target of enhancement of containment measures, provision of personal protective equipments, and testing and isolation facilities should be achieved earlier and be more than the projected demand.


COVID-19; Indonesia; Economy; Health; Dilemma


Satuan Tugas Penanganan COVID-19. Peta sebaran Gugus Tugas Percepatan Penanganan COVID-19 [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 21]. p. 1. Available from: https://covid19.go.id/peta-sebaran.

Setiati S, Azwar MK. COVID-19 and Indonesia. Acta Med Indones. 2020;52(1):84–9. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32291377.

Souisa H, Wibawa T. Indonesia struggles with rising coronavirus infections as tests become commercialised. ABC News. 2020 Jul 17; Available from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-18/indonesia-covid-19-new-normal-commercialisation-test/12459496.

Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. Total COVID-19 tests per 1,000 people [Internet]. Our World in Data. 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 13]. Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/full-list-cumulative-total-tests-per-thousand?tab=table&time=2020-02-20.latest.

Pak A, Adegboye OA, Adekunle AI, Rahman KM, McBryde ES, Eisen DP. Economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak: the need for epidemic preparedness. Front Public Heal. 2020 May 29;8. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpubh.2020.00241/full.

Moti UG, Goon D Ter. Novel Coronavirus Disease: A delicate balancing act between health and the economy. Pakistan J Med Sci. 2020 May;36(COVID19-S4):S134–7. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32582333.

Soedarsono S. A Family cluster of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) infection with different clinical manifestations. Acta Med Indones. 2020;52(2):155–62. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32778630.

The Jakarta Post. COVID-19: Ombudsman slams govt for “focusing too much on economic recovery”. The Jakarta Post. 2020 Aug 31; Available from: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/08/31/covid-19-ombudsman-slams-govt-for-focusing-too-much-on-economic-recovery.html.

Akhlas A. Millions to lose jobs, fall into poverty as Indonesia braces for recession. The Jakarta Post [Internet]. 2020 Apr 15; Available from: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/04/14/millions-to-lose-jobs-fall-into-poverty-as-indonesia-braces-for-recession.html.

Aldin I. 50% ICU RS Pemerintah tanpa ventilator, Erick akan cari ke ujung dunia. Katadata [Internet]. 2020 Jul; Available from: https://katadata.co.id/happyfajrian/berita/5e9a41f6105bd/50-icu-rs-pemerintah-tanpa-ventilator-erick-akan-cari-ke-ujung-dunia.

Tim Detikcom. Grafik mengkhawatirkan ini yang bikin PSBB ketat DKI diberlakukan lagi. detikNews [Internet]. 2020 Sep 10; Available from: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-5166864/grafik-mengkhawatirkan-ini-yang-bikin-psbb-ketat-dki-diberlakukan-lagi.

WHO Europe. Strengthening and adjusting public health measures throughout the COVID-19 transition phases: Policy considerations for the WHO European Region [Internet]. Available from: https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/technical-guidance/2020/strengthening-and-adjusting-public-health-measures-throughout-the-covid-19-transition-phases.-policy-considerations-for-the-who-european-region,-24-a.

Remes J, Dewhurst M, Woetzel J. Research: poor health reduces global GDP by 15% each year. Harvard Business Rev. 2020 Jul 8; Available from: https://hbr.org/2020/07/research-poor-health-reduces-global-gdp-by-15-each-year.

Eichenbaum M, Rebelo S, Trabandt M. The Macroeconomics of Epidemics. Cambridge, MA; 2020 Mar. Available from: http://www.nber.org/papers/w26882.pdf.

Correia S, Luck S, Verner E. Fight the pandemic, save the economy: Lessons from the 1918 flu. Lib Str Econ. Available from: https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2020/03/fight-the-pandemic-save-the-economy-lessons-from-the-1918-flu.html.

Focus Economics. Taiwan economic outlook [Internet]. [cited 2020 Sep 21]. Available from: https://www.focus-economics.com/countries/taiwan.

Chu DK, Akl EA, Duda S, et al. Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2020;395(10242):1973–87. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0140673620311429.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Acta Medica Indonesiana