The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called for a total reform of the national health system that will include self-sufficiency in the pharmaceutical industry in a bid to build national resilience against the health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President highlighted that pharmaceutical imports remained high in the country.
“We know that around 90 percent of medicines and their raw materials still rely on imports, even though our country is rich with biodiversity both on land and in the ocean,” he said in his opening speech in a national meeting with the Indonesian Pharmacists Association on Thursday.
“This clearly wastes our foreign exchange and withholds the growth of our domestic pharmaceutical industry.”
Jokowi said autonomy in the pharmaceutical and health equipment industry must be a joint priority for all stakeholders amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President further called for reform to strengthen the national pharmaceutical industry by pushing for more research, innovation and revitalization of drug raw material manufacturers in the country.
“The abundance of Indonesia’s natural resources must serve as the basic capital for the revival of the domestic pharmaceutical industry. Biodiversity can be used to strengthen community resilience in the health sector,” he said.
The President also pushed for clinical trials and standardization of phytopharmaceuticals - herbal medicines with pure active substances from plants - to serve as alternative medicinal drugs.
In his speech, Jokowi also asked multi-layered elements of society to support the national COVID-19 vaccination process.
The government has prepared logistics and human resources for the first round of the national COVID-19 vaccination program, which is set to begin in November or December this year.
So far, state-owned pharmaceutical holding company PT Bio Farma, in partnership with China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., is currently conducting phase three clinical trials of a candidate vaccine in West Java, which are expected to end in January.
The country has also secured millions of doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese firms Cansino and Sinopharm, Emirati artificial intelligence Group 42 (G42) Health Care and British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.