October 31, 2020

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Indonesian Foreign Minister: right to access technology to fight pandemic belongs to all countries

At the high-level meeting held at the sidelines of the 75th UN General Assembly, the Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi said, “Everyone has the right to get a fair and equal opportunity to win the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Indonesian Foreign Minister was representing the President of the Republic of Indonesia and echoed the sentiments of his speech at the 75th UN High School General Debate Session, that “no one is truly safe until everyone is safe”.

Entitled “The Challenge of a Lifetime: Ensuring Universal Access to Covid-19 Health Technologies”, the gathering was convened by the Government of Costa Rica. Indonesia appreciated Costa Rica’s Solidarity Call to Action initiative, which seeks to unify the science, intellectual property and data needed to fight COVID-19, as well as the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool under the framework of the WHO World Health Organization.

The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) will compile, in one place, pledges of commitment made under the Solidarity Call to Action to voluntarily share COVID-19 health technology-related knowledge, intellectual property and data.

The Pool will draw on relevant data from existing mechanisms, such as the Medicines Patent Pool and the UN Technology Bank-hosted Technology Access Partnership. Shared knowledge, intellectual property and data will leverage our collective efforts to advance science, technology development and broad sharing of the benefits of scientific advancement and its applications based on the right to health.

In her speech, the Indonesian Foreign Minister emphasised the need to bridge the gap between countries ad level the access field. With significant limitations that developing countries face in accessing medicines, vaccines and health technology, it is the need of the hour for all countries to work collaboratively. Three things would ensure that global access becomes a reality:

  1. Maintain solidarity and political commitment from all countries for handling the pandemic.
  2. Establish partnerships with all stakeholders, including the government, researchers, and the medical industry.
  3. Provide global governance to ensure that health technology is available and accessible to everyone”.

She was confident with the three basic pillars in place everyone would be able to enjoy the same benefits from advances in science and health technology for handling COVID-19. These three conditions would be key to the production of affordable vaccines and medicines.

A genuine partnership between the public sector, research and corporates will enable sound policy-making as well as accelerate the production and distribution of medicines, vaccines, equipment and technology. While these partnerships must exist at a national level, an international network of pharmaceutical companies and the health industry is critical. All such efforts and partnerships will be effective if flexibility is available in international regulations and intellectual property rights.

The Indonesian Foreign Minister also expressed Indonesia’s support for the COVAX global initiative which strives to provide vaccines for all countries in the world, as well as conveying Indonesia’s readiness, through the Biofarma company, to participate in producing vaccines for national and global needs, if the due diligence has been carried out successfully.

Indonesia is planning to aggressively tackle the pandemic in the country and is also looking to recover in the post-COVID era. The Ministry of Health will receive Rp 84.3 trillion (US$ 5.7 billion) of state budget allocation in 2021 according to Joint Letter of Ministry of Finance and Minister of National Development Planning (Bappenas).

The Ministry of Health will also receive an allocation of the economic recovery of Rp 25.4 trillion (US$ 1.7 billion) that will be used for COVID-19 vaccine procurement, immunisation, facility and infrastructure of health research and development and budget allocation for Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan).

The Minister of Health confirmed that the budget allocation would be spent on six health priority issues in 2021 (called the National Program). The national program comprises of the national health insurance (JKN), maternal and child mortality reduction, stunting prevention, communicable and non-communicable disease control and health security strengthening for the pandemic response, improvement in the public movement for a healthy life (GERMAS), and national health system strengthening.

The Ministry of Health is determined to conduct programs and priorities to support the President’s vision and mission, particularly in TBC and COVID-19 control and health security strengthening.