Inspirational immunisation innovations impact Indonesian infants

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Helen Evans

Helen Evans
Deputy CEO, GAVI

Thursday
29 August
2013
An Indonesian child becomes among the first in the country to receive pentavalent vaccine with GAVI support

An Indonesian child becomes among the first in the country to receive pentavalent vaccine with GAVI support.
GAVI/2013/Dian Estey

As Indonesia celebrated the introduction of a new pentavalent vaccine last week there was an extra dose of good news: The vaccine that will benefit children across the country was manufactured in Indonesia.

The pentavalent roll out will mean big progress towards ensuring that all children in Indonesia have a healthy start to life. Children will now be immunised against five vaccine preventable killers: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis b and haemophilus influenza type B. Between now and the end of next year, the five in one shot will be delivered to over four million children across the 6,000 inhabited islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago.

In and of itself, this is a critical advance. As I joined the Indonesian Minister of Health, Dr. Nafsiah Mboi, for the vaccine launch in a tent clinic in Karawang, I could see how keen mothers and fathers were to get their children vaccinated. They knew just how important it was to get that protection for their kids.

But last week's announcement was significant for several other reasons – all of which point to an encouraging future for vaccination programmes in Indonesia.

Indonesia has a growing economy and will graduate away from GAVI support by 2016. There will be a gradual increase in the portion funded by Indonesia over the years to 2016, at which point GAVI funding will cease and the programme will be funded entirely by the Indonesian Government.

Helen Evans and Indonesian Minister of Health, Dr Nafsiah Mboi, meet mothers and children at the launch of pentavalent vaccine in Karawang

Helen Evans and Indonesian Minister of Health, Dr Nafsiah Mboi, meet mothers and children at the launch of pentavalent vaccine in Karawang.
GAVI/2013/Dian Estey

Indonesia’s move to self-sufficiency isn't just fiscal - it's industrial and scientific too.

The pentavalent vaccine that will be used for Indonesian children is manufactured in Indonesia by Bio Farma, a parastatal company based in Bandung, West Java. I had the pleasure of touring the Bio Farma facility along with a delegation of Japanese and Korean MPs during my recent visit.

After we finished visiting the impressive facilities we were shown a tree that was planted to recognise the contribution of Japanese scientists to Indonesian vaccine production. By happy coincidence, one of the Japanese MPs on our trip, Motoyuki Fuji, was the health attaché at the Japanese embassy in Indonesia when that collaboration first began.

While the tree had taken root and flourished in the time since Motoyuki Fuji left Indonesia, Bio Farma has also grown into a highly sophisticated organisation with the capacity to deliver a range of vaccines including most recently the pentavalent vaccine to millions of children.

It’s a story that complements GAVI’s experience in Indonesia. Just as Indonesian is now manufacturing its own pentavalent vaccine, so too is the country shifting to the point where it will entirely finance its own immunisation programmes, from the purchase of vaccines to the cold storage and delivery networks which are vital to ensuring all children are reached.

And that is the goal of the GAVI Alliance – to support governments, communities and individuals to save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing access to immunisation ultimately through using their own resources. Indonesia is well on the road to self-sufficiency in immunisation and I look forward to hearing about the successes that surely await in this bustling, vibrant country.

 

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