Saturday, January 30, 2021

Eye on human capital, Indonesia ramps up fight against stunting by Fardah

Jakarta, January 30, 2021 (Antara) -  The Joko Widodo administration has set human resource development as its priority program for the second presidential term from 2019-2024.

The targeted investment in human resources will not just cover education, but also medical care since good health helps people realize their potential and ward off illness.

One of the priority issues for the program involves grooming a healthy younger generation, or a golden generation, for “onward Indonesia”, a term that refers to Widodo’s ministerial line-up.

The government considers the current condition of children under the age of five as a reflection of Indonesia’s future. Hence, the administration is prioritizing drastically reducing stunting rate among Indonesian children.

Children with stunted growth “are those whose height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median”, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Therefore, “addressing the stunting problem has become a priority national program to prepare a golden generation for onward Indonesia when Indonesia celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2045”, Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture, Muhadjir Effendy, said last year.

During the first plenary meeting of the Indonesia Onward Cabinet 2019-2024 on October 24, 2019, Widodo had ordered his Health Minister to reduce the incidence of stunting among Indonesian children.

Data shows the stunting rate in Indonesia dropped to 27.67 percent in 2019 from 30.8 percent in 2018. The government has outlined a target to reduce the prevalence in the country to under 20 percent by 2024, as per the United Nations target.

Stunting is a global problem and although important progress has been made to reduce it, its prevalence is declining too slowly, with levels remaining unacceptably high.

In April, 2019, United Nations agencies reported that 149 million children under five, or almost 22 percent of all children in the age range, were affected by the condition in 2018, which deprived many of the opportunity to achieve their full potential before they even reached school age.

In 2018, more than half of all stunted children under the age of five lived in Asia and more than one-third lived in Africa.

Friday, January 29, 2021



Jakarta, 30/1/2021 (ANTARA) - The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused severe public health problems, but also crippled the economy of various countries, including Indonesia, owing to strict restrictions on public movement and activities.

The Indonesian economy shrunk 5.32 percent in the second quarter and 3.49 percent in the third quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic.

On January 30, 2021, the country recorded 14,518 new coronavirus infections, 10,242 recoveries, and 210 deaths over a single day, the Task Force for COVID-19 Handling reported. With this, the total tally of cases in the country reached 1,066,313, while total recoveries reached 862,502, and the death toll climbed to 29,728.

Therefore, this year, the government is focusing on pursuing economic recovery and handling COVID-19 transmission at the same time.

The governments economic recovery strategy includes the vaccination program, which has kicked off and will be expedited in stages this year.

Post the arrival of millions of doses of Sinovacs vaccine from China, the Indonesian government has been eagerly carrying out the vaccination program across the nation since January 13, 2021 to reverse the trend in infections.

In the first two months of 2021, the government is expected to complete inoculating targeted healthcare workers across the country.

Immunization is one strategy for driving economic revival, in addition to expansion of credit to small businesses, and increased budget allocation for the economic recovery program, according to Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto.

We are optimistic about (our prospects) in 2021-2022, he said during a webinar of the trustee council of the University of Indonesia (UI) on January 27, 2021.

Indonesia betting on SWF to attract foreign investment by Fardah

 Jakarta, January 29, 2021 (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government is determined to continue infrastructure development across the country despite the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic that has severely impacted the economy.

Since the start of his first term in October, 2014, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has prioritized national infrastructure development to strengthen connectivity, economic growth, and national unity.

With the nation facing economic difficulty owing to the pandemic, a gap has emerged between development demand and the availability of funding resources. Hence, the Widodo administration has been exploring ways to attract foreign investment to finance infrastructure development projects, as well as support economic recovery efforts.

According to Widodo, a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) would serve as a breakthrough in these endeavors and help the nation attract funding.

On January 27, 2021, Widodo installed the Finance Minister as chairman and appointed four other members of the Supervisory Board of SWF, termed the Indonesia Investment Authority (INA), based on Presidential Decree Number 6/P of 2021 on the appointment of membership of the Investment Authority Supervisory Board.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has been appointed as chairman and member of the INA. The other members are Minister of State-owned Enterprises (SOEs / BUMN) Erick Thohir, Darwin Cyril Noerhadi, Yozua Makes, and Haryanto Sahari.

On December 15, 2020, the President had issued three governmental regulations on the establishment of Indonesia’s SWF, as mandated in the country’s first omnibus law, Law No. 11 Year 2020 on Job Creation.

The objective of INA will be to increase and optimize long-term investment to support sustainable development, according to Article 5 of the Law. INA will serve as a legal entity answerable to the President and have special authority to represent the sovereign Indonesian government.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

A shot in the arm for COVID efforts by Fardah

Jakarta, January 28, 2021 (Antara)-  With the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine administered without any adverse incident, President Joko Widodo received the second vaccine jab at the Merdeka Palace on January 27, 2021, 14 days after the first shot.

“After the first vaccination on January 13 (2021), two weeks ago, today, I got the second shot of the vaccine. Similar to the first one two weeks ago, I did not feel anything. Only some muscle aches after two hours, and I can engage in normal activities," Jokowi remarked after receiving the second dose of the vaccine.

The Head of State also reminded people to not become lax in observing the health protocols even after receiving the vaccines.

Widodo decided to be the first to receive the vaccine in the country to demonstrate its safety to the people. Indonesia’s immunization program has been rolled out with Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, which has been the first and only vaccine to arrive in the country so far, although vaccines have been ordered from several companies from different countries.

The initial phase of the vaccination program is targeted at doctors and nurses, and at least 250 thousand of them have been vaccinated so far.

The ministry is targeting to inoculate 1.48 million medical workers, and of the total target, 1.45 million have been re-registered for the vaccination.

After healthcare workers, the next targeted group comprises military and police personnel, as well as public service officers. By mid-February, 2021, people in general, particularly those aged between 18 and 58 years old, could start getting the vaccine.

The government is targeting to inoculate 181.5 million people free of charge. In order to reach the target in a year, the government will need to inoculate up to one million citizens in a day, the Head of State estimated.

"With more than 30 thousand vaccinators in 10 thousand community health centers (Puskesmas) and three thousand hospitals, we hope that 900 thousand to one million people would be vaccinated. However, this will need time and good management, as I always tell the Health Minister," President Widodo stated.

The government has ordered 329.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, US-Canada firm Novavax, British firm AstraZeneca, and joint US-Germany pharmaceutical firm Pfizer BioNTech.

Indonesia strives for vaccine self-reliance in COVID fight by Fardah

Jakarta, January 28, 2021 (Antara) The second dose of China’s Sinovac vaccine has been administered across the country since January 27, 2021, mostly to healthcare workers at the frontlines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the first coronavirus infections emerged on March 2, 2020, Indonesia has chalked up 1,037,99 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 29,331 deaths, according to data recorded as of January 28, 2021.

Under its vaccine program, the government is targeting to inoculate 181.5 million people, free of charge, out of the total population of 271 million.

Indonesia received 15 million doses of the bulk vaccine from Sinovac to be manufactured into individual doses by Bio Farma. The Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) has issued a certificate for Good Manufacturing Practices (CPOB), or a permit, to Bio Farma to commence the production of COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.

The government has so far ordered a total of 329.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from various manufacturers.

Under various agreements, Indonesia is scheduled to receive 125.5 million vaccine doses from China's Sinovac; 50 million doses from US-Canadian vaccine manufacturer Novavax; 50 million doses through multilateral cooperation between the WHO and the World Vaccine Alliance (Covax-GAVI); 50 million doses from the British manufacturer AstraZeneca; and, 50 million doses from German and US pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech.

At the same time, the nation has been developing its indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, Red and White, named after its national flag, to make the country self-sufficient and self-reliant in COVID-19 vaccine production.

In addition to helping the country handle the COVID-19 pandemic, the development of the Red and White COVID-19 vaccine would also demonstrate Indonesia’s capability to singlehandedly produce a vaccine against the coronavirus.

The indigenous vaccine is currently being developed by a consortium comprising the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Gadjah Mada University (UGM), University of Indonesia (UI), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), and Airlangga University (UNAIR).

According to the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, the development of the Red and White vaccine has reached 60 percent on the laboratory scale.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Govt advises strict vigilance as COVID-19 cases spike by Fardah

 Jakarta, Jan 22, 2021 (ANTARA) - On January 13, 2021, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) received the country's first coronavirus vaccine shot at the Merdeka Palace, marking the start of Indonesia's mass vaccination program against COVID-19.

The following day, the vaccination program commenced in several regions across the country, with the government distributing about three million doses of the Sinovac vaccine. About 1.4 million healthcare workers are the primary target of the program's initial phase from January to February, 2021.

"The COVID-19 vaccination is important for us to break the chain of coronavirus transmission and provide health protection and security for all of us, the people of Indonesia, and to help accelerate economic recovery," the President remarked.

The National Agency for Drug and Food Control (BPOM) granted emergency-use authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac on January 11, 2021.

According to the agency, based on data from the third stage clinical trials in Bandung, West Java, the Sinovac vaccine has been found 65.3-percent effective, thereby meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) threshold of 50 percent.

Although the vaccination program has begun, President Widodo has urged Indonesians to continue observing health protocols strictly, such as wearing masks, washing hands with soap frequently, and maintaining social distancing.

In fact, the Indonesian government has decided to extend restrictions on the movement of people in Java and Bali by another fortnight from January 26 to February 8, 2021. The restrictions were earlier imposed from January 11-25.

Friday, January 8, 2021

As COVID cases spike, govt clamps down on public movement by Fardah

Jakarta, Jan 8 (Antara) -  The Indonesian government has decided to tighten restrictions on the movement of people in Java and Bali from January 11-25, 2021, to curtail a spike in COVID-19 infections.

The country has seen a record rise in daily COVID-19 cases for two consecutive days — it recorded 9,321 cases on January 7, 2021 and 10,617 on January 8. This has brought the total case tally to 808,340. Meanwhile, total recoveries have touched 666,883, while the death toll has reached 23,753.

Several other countries have also declared fresh lockdown in cities such as London, Beijing, Tokyo, Quebec, and Bangkok, to curb coronavirus transmission.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, informed the press about the restrictions following a limited cabinet meeting on COVID-19 handling and immunization, led by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in Jakarta on January 6, 2021.

The restrictions will be fully tightened in Jakarta and its adjoining areas, including Bogor City, Bogor district, Depok, Bekasi City, and Bekasi’s districts, the minister affirmed.

In Banten province, restrictions will be tightened in Tangerang City, Tangerang district, South Tangerang, and Tangerang Raya.

In West Java province, stricter measures will be imposed in Bandung, West Bandung district, and Cimahi district, in addition to Bogor and Bekasi, which are suburban areas of Jakarta.

In Central Java, restrictions will be tightened in Semarang Raya, Solo Raya, and Banyumas Raya. The new measures will also be imposed in Gunung Kidul district, Sleman district, and Kulon Progo in Yogyakarta.

Tighter restrictions will be applied in Malang Raya and Surabaya Raya in East Java. Moreover, restrictions will be tightened in Denpasar City and Badung district in Bali.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021



Jakarta, Jan 6 , 2021(Antara) -President Joko Widodo has picked January 14 and January 15, 2021 to launch the initial stage of Indonesia’s mass vaccination program against COVID-19. 


He has also decided to lead the immunization drive by receiving the country's first vaccine shot on January 13, 2021, in an event that will be broadcast live.


The Indonesian government will commence its vaccine program with President Widodo getting the first symbolic COVID-19 vaccine shot and the vaccination drive will continue on January 14 and 15 in several regions across the country, Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian announced on Tuesday.


The President volunteered to be the first to receive the vaccine to boost the public's confidence on its safety, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin explained.


The President will receive China's Sinovac vaccine a day or two after the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) issues an emergency-use authorization for the vaccine.


The Phase III clinical trials of the Sinovac vaccine are being conducted by the University of Padjajaran and state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma in Bandung, West Java, since August, 2020.


BPOM said the results of the Phase III clinical trials of the Sinovac vaccine will come out in the first week of January, 2021. The BPOM will also obtain data on clinical trials of the vaccine conducted in Brazil and Turkey in order to make a decision.


The agency has discovered two types of data indicating the Sinovac vaccine's safety, based on the results of clinical trials in the past couple of months.


The two types of data pertain to the vaccine’s immunogenicity and efficacy, BPOM spokesperson for COVID-19 vaccination, Lucia Rizka Andalusia, noted in a written statement released on Tuesday.


"This vaccine is quite safe. It has no serious side effects on its users," Andalusia noted during an Alinea Forum on ‘Halal and Security of COVID-19 Vaccine’.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Vaccine availability offers hope amid hike in COVID-19 cases by Fardah

 Jakarta, Jan 5, 2021 (ANTARA) - Some 1.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses ordered from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd arrived on Dec 31 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten, with stocks reaching three million following 1.2 million doses delivered on Dec 6.

Another 15 million doses of bulk vaccines from Sinovac will arrive in the near future and will be manufactured by state-run vaccine manufacturer PT Bio Farma, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi stated.

In addition to Sinovac, the government has been on the lookout for other sources of the vaccines.

"Indonesia has signed a commitment to supply 50 million doses of the vaccine from the US company Novavax that used the sub-recombinant protein platform and 50 million doses from British company AstraZeneca that used the viral factor platform," she remarked.

In fact, Indonesia had ordered the COVID-19 vaccine from various sources: 125 million doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd; 100 million doses of US-Canada's Novavax; 100 million doses from British AstraZeneca; 100 million doses from Germany-US' Pfizer; and 16-100 million doses of free vaccine from Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) as part of a multilateral cooperation.

The Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency (PPN/Bappenas) has confirmed that Indonesia will receive some 370 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by different pharma companies by 2022.

"The target for the vaccine (program) is (ensuring that) 181 million people achieve herd immunity and there are reserves, so that the number reaches over 370 million," Minister of National Development Planning, concurrently Head of Bappenas, Suharso Monoarfa stated.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto earlier revealed that the government had readied a budget of Rp73 trillion for the vaccine procurement.

While emergency-use authorization is still awaited from the Food and Drug Administration (BPOM) for Sinovac’s vaccine, the government has distributed the available Sinovac vaccine to regions reporting the highest COVID-19 transmission rates.

Padjajaran University and PT Bio Farma have conducted clinical tests to determine safe dosages and likely side-effects of the Sinovac vaccine since early August 2020.

Vaccine availability is crucial to boosting confidence and raising hopes amid a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, with a population of over 270 million.

As of Jan 4, 2021, as many as 22,911 Indonesians had succumbed to COVID-19, including over 500 healthcare workers, since the government announced its first confirmed cases on March 2, 2020.