We underline the Health Ministry’s three focus programs for 2023 as a serious effort by the government to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. Vigilance should be maintained.
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When recounting the performance of his ministry in Jakarta on Thursday (5/1/2023), Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin described the ministry’s three focus programs for 2023: vaccination, pandemic handling, and health system transformation.
The first program must receive special attention this year.
Indonesia has the fifth highest Covid-19 vaccination coverage among all countries in the world. More than 448 million vaccine doses have been administered to the public. Even so, this achievement still has not met the recommended target of the World Health Organization (WHO). Second-dose vaccination in Indonesia has reached 64.6 percent of the total population, compared to the minimum target of 70 percent of a country’s population as set by the WHO.
Third-dose vaccination is even lower, at just 37.81 percent of targeted recipients aged 18 and above, while fourth-dose vaccination for the elderly has reached a mere 5.32 percent.
We therefore fully support the continuation of the government’s vaccination plan for 2023. If necessary, a public campaign and more extensive rollout should be launched again, just as in the first-dose vaccination drive. Apart from a need to reach the WHO target, vaccination is also especially needed to protect the Indonesian people from being infected by Covid-19, which still exists.
At the global level, as reported by this daily, Covid-19 cases are again surging with the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, which has emerged in 29 countries and is spreading rapidly in the United States. The WHO has noted that XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible Covid-19 subvariant ever detected to date.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also cautioned that the Covid-19 pandemic has entered its fourth year. Despite some improvement, Covid-19 remains a threat to health, the economy and the public.
WHO Covid-19 technical lead Maria van Kerkhove added that 13 million Covid-19 cases had been reported to the UN health agency in December 2022: “[...] and we know that that's an underestimate because surveillance has declined," said van Kerkhove.
Therefore, the Health Ministry’s second focus program of pandemic handling is also important to ascertain that Indonesia is safe from outbreaks of the new Covid-19 subvariant, and it must include ensuring the accuracy of Covid-19 data.
Health minister Budi has assured us that surveillance capacity would be increased to manage the pandemic. More equipment and genome sequencing laboratories will be provided this year. At present, Indonesia has 41 such laboratories, up from 16 labs in December 2020.
The PeduliLindungi application developed by Satu Sehat is expected to serve as a truly useful public tool in the transformation of the national health system.