Indonesian authorities began to call and re-vaccinate over 200 children who were affected by the fake vaccine ring, that were sold for over 8,000 rupiahs to private clinics. The scandal was addressed, for the first time, last month.
According to local authorities, the first batch of identified children has been called in to gain re-vaccinations after receiving fake ones. Authorities had only identified 200 victims, but there’s a greater number to be addressed.
The health scandal has impacted the country, especially the city of Jakarta, the capital of the country and the most populated region of the country, where the ring worked on a daily basis. Authorities are still investigating the case.
After the scandal emerged, local citizens doubt the Indonesian government on health issues. Nonetheless, the country had already a bad image especially around citizens of a growing middle class.
The public has gained knowledge that the local government knew about the drug scam since 2013, yet measurements are being made three years later, a fact that doesn’t help government credibility among citizens.
No reports of deaths or health damages have been reported due to the fake vaccines, yet private clinics are also under investigation by local authorities.
Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, has asked citizens to maintain calm while authorities work on the case and questions get answers. Nonetheless, the scandal hasn’t helped the government’s popularity.
“We need more time to investigate, so we can get the real data of people who suffered from these fake vaccines,” said Widodo on a press conference to the country.
— Channel NewsAsia (@ChannelNewsAsia) July 18, 2016
Childrens vaccine scandal
According to local reports, the drug scam ring was selling fake vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis B and whooping cough. The drugs were sold primarily on Jakarta and on the Java island.
Reuters reports the vaccines were sold to at least 14 health facilities including public and private clinics, making them look as universal vaccines under the brand of GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi.
In the country all of the vaccines are produced by the state-owned Bio-Farma, what makes them regulated medicines for low prices but hard to get.
These supposedly “international” vaccines were sold for over 8,000 rupiahs, equivalent to $60, compared with the government’s prices that surround the 5,000 rupiahs.
Some of the affected parents have mentioned the vaccines were labeled as “safer for children” by health physicians and experts. Yet, made only 1 percent of the vaccines in the country
According to initial reports, the fake medicine contained a saline solution and an antibiotic called gentamicin. They were not dangerous to children in any way, according to authorities.
So far only 200 victims have been identified, yet local authorities have already arrested over 24 suspects and implications. That includes nurses, doctors, drug makers and pharmacists.
Declarations from the government have come via Nila Moeloek, who is the Indonesian Health Minister. Moeloek has stated they knew about the vaccines back in 2013, yet no public comment has explained what took authorities so long.
Meanwhile, government officials announced on Friday 15th, a restructuration and hold of the local Food and drug monitoring agency until the case finishes.
“We can’t be half-hearted with this vaccine problem, yesterday the President decided to immediately restructure the food and drug agency,” said Pramono Anung, the Cabinet Secretary in a written statement.
The health sector has been under fire by local citizens, who has led to the publication of the main health facilities that were affected by the drug scam ring. Meanwhile, parents, are pledging to know whether their children belong to the batch of victims.
The discovery of the scam ring was made by authorities after the local police discovered a pharmacist at Bekasi, the subject had been arrested for selling medicines and vaccines without owning a license.
Further investigations revealed the medication was fake and that led authorities to a dozen of suspects and the discovery of the scam ring.
Authorities are questioning local physicians, doctors and nurses to understand who might have been a part of the cam. Meanwhile, parents and civilians are demanding the closure of the locations that administered the vaccines,
Government officials and authorities have claimed they are working on the issue and hope this never happens again.
China has recently faced a similar scandal, involving fake vaccines in larger magnitudes, over millions of fake medicine were given to children all across the country had the same political problems that In
China also had the same political problems that Indonesia is facing, parents and civilians were outraged that local governments knew about the happening for over a year, and the public wasn’t warned.
The Chinese government later developed an immunization program for all victims, but still faced the public’s distrust.