Investors, tech startups and companies in Indonesia are joining forces to augment the availability and supply of oxygen in a bid to combat the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the country.
With the total number of cases exceeding 3 million and casualties standing at 80,000, Indonesia has become the new epicentre of the pandemic in Asia, overtaking India, as the highly contagious delta variant sweeps through the densely populated Java island, and Bali.
While there has been a slight decline in new coronavirus cases with the drop in COVID-19 testing of late, the country has recorded over 1,000 deaths on a daily basis.
On Friday, as many as 49,071 new cases emerged with the number of deaths standing at 1,566, the highest in a single day so far.
Mounting cases in the country have left hospitals and crematoriums overwhelmed with the widespread shortage of oxygen.
Based on the Ministry of Health data, Indonesia has been able to fulfill only 1,578 tons of oxygen requirements per day, far from the required 2,330 tons.
The situation has prompted various entrepreneurs in the burgeoning startup ecosystem and venture capitalists to join hands to raise funds to overcome the acute oxygen shortage that the country is facing.
As many as 11 venture capital (VC) firms and 13 startups including East Ventures, AC Ventures, Sequoia, GoVentures, Halodoc, eFishery, PayFazz, BukuWarung are in this initiative together.
They jointly aim to create a pool of $10 million to supply 10,000 oxygen concentrators that could be distributed to 1,500 hospitals, to help 30,000 COVID-19 patients in Indonesia on an immediate basis. Of the corpus, around $1 million has been raised so far.
By September 2021, the startup ecosystem expects to deploy about 10,000 oxygen concentrators in the country.
“In the time of crisis, every little effort matters. We started ‘Indonesia PASTI BISA Safeguards Oxygen’ 10 days ago and have raised over our target $1 million to bring in a minimum 1,000 oxygen concentrators to Indonesia,” Willson Cuaca, founding partner at East Ventures, said in a press statement.
“We built end-to-end solutions, from donation platform, oxygen demand prediction, logistics or distribution, to inventory tracking. It enables us to deliver the first 200 units of oxygen concentrators to 33 hospitals in 10 provinces, transparently within one week after the fundraising started. The remaining 800 units will arrive soon.”
The donation initiative has been thrown open to the public on Friday – people can contribute through several platforms such as Kitabisa.com, gofundme.com, and Indonesian NGO YCAB Foundation that has affiliates in the US.
Meanwhile, GoTo (the newly created entity formed by the merger of Indonesia’s two most valuable tech companies Gojek and Tokopedia) has launched a similar initiative – The Gotong Royong (Hand-in-hand) Oxygen House – earlier this week.
The startup has tied up with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN Indonesia), oxygen producer Samator Group and a number of government agencies to support the country’s relief and recovery efforts.
The project is expected to help reduce the Bed Occupancy Rate (BOR) in hospitals of Jakarta, which has touched 85%, according to Ministry of Health data released on July 17.
The idea is to refer patients at Oxygen House to nearby hospitals if their condition deteriorates.
“The facility will provide an ongoing supply of oxygen to those who need it the most – it will save lives and alleviate suffering for many people in the city. No one should have to suffer due to lack of oxygen,” Andre Soelistyo, CEO of GoTo, said.
Meanwhile, Sea group also donated 1,000 oxygen cylinders and one million vaccines in this crisis situation.
Earlier this month, the Health Ministry forged a partnership with 11 telemedicine apps to provide free consultation and medicine delivery to coronavirus patients. The apps include names like Alodokter, Getwell, Good Doctor, Halodoc, Klikdokter, Klinik Go, SehatQ, YesDok, ProSehat, Link Sehat, and Milvik Dokter.