INDONESIA – TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – At least 500 professional health workers signed an open letter for President Joko ‘Jokowi‘ Widodo, urging the government to prevent land and forest fires amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am deeply thankful to my colleagues who have taken the time to support by signing this open letter,” said Monica Nirmala, an environment activist from the Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) Foundation that initiated the action, in Jakarta, Thursday, September 24.
The letter was read by a lecturer at the Medicine Faculty of University of Tanjungpura, Arif Wicaksoo, during the Tempo’s webinar in collaboration with ASRI Foundation and Sustainable Civil Foundation or Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan.
Monica, who is a dentist, argued that public health issues must be resolved from upstream to downstream, including the prevention of land and forest fires, as well as deforestation.
Do not let smog caused by wildfires, she added, put more burden to public health amid this ongoing pandemic. Yet she expressed gratitude that this year’s dry season was not as dry as that of previous years.
The government released data that 64,600 hectares of lands were burned throughout January to July.
However, the Sustainable Civil Foundation analyzed that wildfires burned 84,000 hectares of lands in August alone, a significant hike from 18,000 ha in July. Fortunately, the number of hotspots began to decrease starting in September.