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Jakarta Post

Govt, UGM to distribute 11,000 free local test kits to clamp down on COVID-19

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Thu, November 26, 2020   /   05:59 pm
Govt, UGM to distribute 11,000 free local test kits to clamp down on COVID-19 Mulyanto, the head of the Mataram Hepatika Bumi Gora Laboratory in West Nusa Tenggara, holds up a foil sealed package containing the RI-GHA antibody test kit in this file photo taken in June 2020. Developed by the Research and Technology Ministry, Gadjah Mada University, Airlangga University and the Mataram Hepatika lab, 11,000 of the test kits are being distributed for free in November to health facilities across the country. ( R.)

Gadjah Mada University (UGM), in cooperation with the Research and Technology Ministry, is to distribute 11,000 locally developed rapid test kits for free to hospitals and health agencies across the country.

Called RI-GHA, short for Republik Indonesia-Gadjah Mada Hepatika Airlangga, UGM and Airlangga University researchers developed the antibody test kits that are currently being mass produced at the UGM Science and Techno Park in Minomartani village of Sleman regency, Yogyakarta.

“This kit has undergone a long process and [many] improvements to reach the right formula,” the test kit’s principal researcher, Sofia Mubarika, said on Wednesday in a statement. Sofia was speaking at the ceremonial handover of 1,500 test kits to the Sleman Health Agency at the Puskesmas (community health center) Mlati II in Mlati district, Sleman.

She said the test kit was developed to meet the overwhelming demand for COVID-19 tests that were easy to use, accurate and could be produced domestically for the independence and resilience of Indonesia’s health system in managing the emergency.

Sofia said that the production and distribution of the RI-GHA were the researchers’ contributions in supporting the government’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“I thank the Research and Technology Ministry for supporting this innovative product of the nation’s children, so it can be downstreamed to the people,” she said.

Among the health facilities to receive the test kits are: General Soedirman University in Purwokerto, Central Java (2,000 kits), Yogyakarta City Health Agency (1,500), Gunungkidul Health Agency, Yogyakarta (1,500), Kulon Progo Health Agency, Yogyakarta (1,500), Makassar City Health Agency, South Sulawesi (1,000), Muhammadiyah University of Malang, East Java (1,000), and the Malang Regency Health Agency (1,000).

Read also: UGM expert shares tips on conserving internet data during pandemic

Sleman Health Agency head Joko Hastaryo welcomed the distribution of the RI-GHA test kit and expressed his hope that more would be produced to make it more affordable. He said that other test kits cost Rp 85,000 (US$6) per test, while the RI-GHA cost Rp 75,000 per test.

“Hopefully it will become cheaper and cheaper later,” said Joko.

The research ministry’s subdirector of drug, health and food industries, Novi Mukti Rahayu, also expressed her hope that the RI-GHA test kits could help mitigate the health crisis, along with other locally developed medical innovations, including ventilators and herbal medicines.

“Hopefully, this will benefit the greater public and we can get through this pandemic well,” she said.

At a recent UGM virtual graduation ceremony, rector Panut Mulyono said that the pandemic had also prompted the rise of creativity to deal with the disease as well as the ensuing hardships.

He said that UGM, for example, had developed various innovations to tackle the health crisis. Apart from the RI-GHA, its scientists had created ventilators for intensive care, the GeNose a coronavirus breathalyzer, a thermal scanner gate and a swab chamber that used smart technology.

It had also developed a mask sterilizer, 3D-printed face shields, a disinfectant made from turpentine, herbal products to boost the immune system, and a big data management and analysis system for COVID-19 mitigation.

“We have to deal with the situation with a positive spirit and [great] courage to advance Indonesia,” he said in his commencement speech. (swa)

Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.