07/19/2016, 13.41
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Vaccines scandal: doctors and hospitals against Ministry of Health and Drug Agency

by Mathias Hariyadi

The story of counterfeit drugs has taken a violent turn. Angry people stormed two hospitals and attacked medical personnel. The ministry blames health care facilities and professionals. Doctors and hospital associations come up with rapid solutions to minimise the crisis.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Hit by the scandal of fake vaccines, Indonesia’s healthcare system ha launched a counterattack by pointing at those responsible and suggesting actions for the families involved.

Yesterday, three medical organisations, the Indonesian Medical Doctors Association (IDI), the Indonesian Hospital Association (ARSI) and the Union of Indonesian Hospitals (PERSI) released a joint statement in which they refute allegations of widespread corruption and inefficiency.

The use of fake vaccines began in 2003, but its full extent came to light only this year when the a child died after he was administered fake vaccine.

When the media picked up the story, the hitherto complacent police was forced to act. This placed the spotlight on the country’s health care system and its practitioners, tarnishing their reputation.

Angry families slammed doctors and medical staff for using fake vaccines to save money. The Indonesian Ministry of Health and Drug Agency exploited popular anger against doctors to hide their own responsibility.

Last week, Health Minister Nila F. Moeloek released the names of 14 hospitals and clinics involved in the scandal, fuelling public anger and resentment.

In some cases, this anger turned violent. Last Friday, some doctors, nurses and other medical staff were attacked at the Harapan Bunda Hospital in East Jakarta. The same thing happened the next day at St Elizabeth Hospital in Bekasi. The latter is also the only Catholic health facility involved in the vaccine affair.

IDI president Ilham Oetama Marsis slammed the Ministry of Health for exacerbating the crisis and fuelling public anger. This has tainted all of the country’s hospitals.

"We want to see strong action before this crisis does not deteriorate further," he said.

The heads of the three associations have come up with some immediate steps to address the emergency.

This includes showing solidarity to the families affected by the scandal as well as preventive action to stop further violence against doctors and health care workers.

The Health Ministry and Drug Agency must also assume their responsibility and provide actual solutions in the near future.

At the same time, there must be an acknowledgement that most doctors and nurses are victims of a few elements who perpetrated the wrongdoing.

Finally, crisis centres should be set up rapidly to minimise the problem and provide new vaccines to children who received the counterfeit drug.

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