The Jakarta Post
The Health Ministry ranks second among all ministries currently processing license requests since the COVID-19 pandemic triggered soaring demand for health equipment in Indonesia, according to the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).
Requests to import, produce and distribute health equipment filed to the ministry have spiked since February as the country grapples to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, BKPM chairman Bahlil Lahadalia said during an online broadcast of the inauguration ceremony of the agency's command center.
“When COVID-19 entered Indonesia, [requests for licenses] from the Health Ministry jumped to second place, just below the Trade Ministry, from sixth place,” Bahlil said on Monday.
According to the BKPM, between February and March 23 demands for licenses to import and distribute health equipment filed with the Health Ministry topped the list with 1,482 requests, followed by health equipment distribution certificates with 1,255 requests and health equipment production certificates with 877 requests.
“The BKPM is easing distribution and import licensing processes for health equipment, raw materials and other necessities required to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Health Ministry and the BKPM are committed to prioritizing [licenses] necessary to mitigate the virus,” he said.
Previously, a plan to import some 500,000 COVID-19 rapid testing kits by state-owned diversified manufacturer PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI) from China reportedly faced hurdles because of slow licensing at the Health Ministry.
State-Owned Enterprises Ministry spokesman Arya Sinulingga said on March 18 that the RNI had submitted the import request on March 10, but the company still awaited a response.
Arya later said that a number of COVID-19 rapid testing kits were to be shipped to Indonesia starting March 19 and that the RNI would handle the distribution of the testing kits to COVID-19 referral hospitals.
Indonesia had confirmed at least 514 positive COVID-19 cases and 48 fatalities as of Sunday. (mpr)