January 19, 2021

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Indonesia’s Health Ministry looks to deploy IoT in vaccine storage, distribution

The Ministry of Health is looking at integrating the Internet of Things (IoT) technology that can be utilised to store COVID-19 vaccines more efficiently. According to a statement, the Ministry expressed interest in applying the technology and processes that pharmaceutical companies have been using to preserve and gather data on vaccines. These include the Vaccine Distribution Management System (SMDV) put up by state-owned firm Bio Farma.  

The system applies a 2-D data matrix in vaccine packages. This matrix allows the manufacturer to ensure product identification, traceability and authentication. Because vaccines are sensitive to changes in temperature, the SMDV programme integrates temperature sensors using IoT technology in order to keep track of vaccine temperature real-time. 

The SMDV allows improved monitoring of vaccine temperatures. Once implemented, the system can be integrated with other programmes within the company’s premises. Data gathered can also be sent to the Health Ministry’s Command Center. 

The Center, which shall be equipped with an IoT dashboard, can then be used to monitor the delivery and storage of vaccines, as well as other conditions that may occur during transit, like dropping of temperature. This IoT dashboard comes equipped with global positioning technology (GPS) that allows location tracking of vaccines during shipment. 

In a visit to the Command Center with other government officials, Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that they are looking forward to applying the SMDV technology. He added: “We hope that this SMDV can be digitally integrated with the existing system in the Ministry of Health, and can be applied to services [and] health facilities throughout Indonesia.” 

According to Soleh Ayubi, Director of Digital Healthcare at Bio Farma, the new technology can be harnessed to preserve the quality of vaccines and allow for better monitoring. The Director added that once temperatures drop beyond specified limits, the system would be able to notify authorities at the Command Center. These authorities could then contact drivers of vehicles transporting vaccines and give them instructions. 

Aside from strict tracking of vaccine shipments, the Ministry’s Command Center can likewise record the time of delivery and total orders of vaccines. Ratios of shipment, delivery maps and other necessary details are also reflected in the IoT dashboard. 

Data gathered through the digital system can be used for decision-making processes to ensure the quality of vaccines and their seamless and quick dispatch. 

The Director also said that the system will first be used in vaccine distribution. The statement comes after Bio Farma announced that it has begun distributing Sinovac, a variant of the COVID-19 vaccine to various health facilities in 34 provinces. Storage facilities for these vaccines were also reported to have been prepared. 

Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, earlier reported that it has received the second tranche of COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturer Sinovac. This comes as the government ramps up its programme for a free vaccination. Health workers are first in line to receive vaccines, while authorities said the entire programme is expected to be completed within 12 months. 

The government is also set to receive a fresh batch of 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturers AstraZeneca and Pfizer. 

The healthcare sector is one of the industries that the Indonesian government is striving to improve through the adoption of digital technology. In a report by OpenGov Asia, the government announced that several startups are receiving support from the government as part of initiatives to accelerate digital transformation. The latest Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise to receive financial assistance is a firm that has developed an innovative health application. This app offers contactless thermal screening that is fully integrated into an on-device artificial intelligence system.