Vaccination intended to reduce mortality during transition period

Jakarta- The mandate of the COVID-19 vaccination program during the endemic transition is to reduce the death rate to the lowest level, an epidemiologist from the Faculty of Public Health, University of Indonesia (FKM-UI), has said.

“The mandate is now to keep the number of deaths as low as possible,” Pandu Riono said at the 2023 national serosurvey press conference at the Health Ministry here on Friday.

Currently, there are no COVID-19 patients who need to be hospitalized, he added. But that does not mean that no one is getting infected.

Riono said that those contracting COVID-19 are generally experiencing mild symptoms because they have built immunity, either naturally through infection or the vaccination provided under the government program.

He gave the example of the detection of the latest Omicron sub-variant XBB.1.5, or Kraken, in Indonesia.

“The case that caused a stir yesterday, (due to) Kraken, has mild symptoms,” he said.

“Meanwhile in other countries, the case has triggered a spike in cases. Why is it that in Indonesia the situation is relatively calm, while in other countries the numbers are high? It’s because of our immunity,” he added.

The Indonesian Health Ministry has reported that as of February 2, 2023, fatalities have been reported from COVID-19 infection in Indonesia. In the past two weeks, five people have succumbed to the disease.

Meanwhile, a member of the serosurvey team as well as an epidemiologist from FKM UI, Iwan Ariawan, said that high antibody levels in the community are currently proving beneficial in preventing serious illness and death.

“An analysis of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia shows that the lowest risk of death is for those who have received a booster. Any type of booster vaccine can reduce the risk of death quite well,” he informed.

However, based on the serosurvey and analysis of the fatalities, vaccination is still essential for the community, Ariawan said.

“Infection can still occur because, in the midst of the current situation, it is impossible for us to eliminate SARS-CoV-2,” he added.

The national serosurvey conducted in January 2023 has shown that the immunity level among the Indonesian population against COVID-19 is high at 99 percent, an increase from 98 percent in July 2022.

The level of antibodies in the public is reported to have increased 1.5 times to 3,207 in January 2023 compared to 2,095 in July 2022.

Source: Antara News

SSGI stunting data will be updated annually, minister assures

Jakarta- Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has assured that the data from the Indonesian Nutritional Status Survey (SSGI) on stunting handling will be updated routinely every year.

“We do it annually. Thus, in 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024, we carry it out annually,” he said at the “Dissemination of Intervention Policy for the Acceleration of Stunting Reduction in 2023,” on Friday.

He noted that earlier, SSGI was carried out every three years. However, now, it is being conducted once a year due to the short handling time and to adjust to President Joko Widodo’s target of reducing the national stunting prevalence to 14 percent by 2024.

SSGI has been carried out using the survey method for the past ten years.

“This is a survey in nature; thus, not 100 percent (of the population) ‘by name by address’ measured. Why use a survey method, not a census? Because we are not yet been able to carry out a census evenly in all provinces,” he said.

According to Sadikin, Indonesia cannot compile SSGI data using the census method due to the inadequate and uneven distribution of infrastructure in provinces. Thus, it is feared that there will be difficulties when gathering and comparing data during a census.

Nevertheless, he said that currently, there are several provinces with more advanced infrastructure that can collect 100 percent “by name by address” data. The ministry is planning to hold a discussion with the relevant regional governments and ask them to compare the SSGI data with their data.

In accordance with the direction of President Widodo, the Ministry of Health has distributed new body weight scales and anthropometric devices to all integrated health centers (posyandu) so that the body measurements of children can be carried out the same way, thereby making their reporting uniform.

Indonesia’s stunting prevalence in 2022 declined by 2.8 percentage points to 21.6 percent from 24.4 percent in 2021, based on the 2022 SSGI survey of 334,848 samples comprising babies and under-five children.

The government is aiming to reduce stunting prevalence to 17.8 percent this year and 14 percent by next year.

Source: Antara News

Second booster vital despite high antibody levels: Ministry

Jakarta- The second COVID-19 booster dose is essential even though 99 percent of the Indonesian population has developed antibodies against the virus, head of the Health Development Policy Agency of the Health Ministry Syarifah Liza Munira highlighted.

“This 99 percent is the proportion of people who have antibodies, but the levels are varied,” she said at a press conference on the 2023 serosurvey here on Friday.

Munira pointed out that, based on the results of the third serosurvey, the people who had the highest level of antibodies were those who had received the booster vaccine dose.

Thus, the more complete the vaccination that people have received, the higher will be their antibody level and the lower will be the risk of severe illness or even death due to COVID-19 infection, she added.

According to her, the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently circulating in Indonesia cannot prevent human-to-human transmission yet.

“But the current vaccines can prevent the severity of the condition when we contract COVID-19,” she added.

At the same press conference, an epidemiologist from the University of Indonesia, Pandu Riono, said that the second booster vaccination is being prioritized to protect people with the highest risk of infection, namely older adults and people with comorbidities.

“Unfortunately, this survey has not been able to answer whether a second booster is really needed, but we see that there is concern among people if it (second booster) is only prioritized for health workers and older adults,” he added.

“If the community wants it, it is not wrong for the government to open a second booster option for people aged 18 and over,” he said.

Riono further said that based on the serosurvey, those who have completed the primary doses and received the first booster have been shown to have the highest antibody levels and low risk of hospitalization and fatality upon infection.

On Friday, the Ministry of Health announced that based on the results of the latest serosurvey conducted in January this year (the third serosurvey carried out since December 2021), 99 percent of the Indonesian population has developed antibodies against COVID-19.

The Indonesian government started the provision of the second booster to people aged 18 years and over on January 24, 2023.

Source: Antara News

Need efforts to help university graduates expand skills: MPR

Jakarta- Deputy Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Lestari Moerdijat has called for efforts to increase college graduates’ skills and knowledge to help them meet the demands of the job market.

This is also important for preparing productive, qualified human resources in order to keep up with the global competition, she said in a statement received here on Friday.

“Admittedly, to live up to a profession to the fullest, one needs a number of skills to be able to do that profession properly,” she added.

According to the Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Ministry, only 20 percent of university graduates pursue work related to the major they studied.

Moreover, as per data from Statistics Indonesia, 8.4 million people, or 5.83 percent of Indonesia’s total working-age population of 208.54 million, were unemployed in February 2022. Of the 8.4 million, 14 percent were diploma and bachelors degree holders.

Moerdijat said she is confident that thorough preparation through the collaboration of several stakeholders is necessary to ensure that graduates of tertiary education can find employment once they meet the demands of the job market.

Thus, she called for practical programs to be hosted on an extensive scale so as to improve university graduates’ competencies and address the disparity between their actual skills and industry demands.

Moerdijat said she believes that in the long term, national education that creates great and productive human resources will be required.

She also called for better collaboration between universities and the industry for creating capable and competitive citizens.

She urged stakeholders at the central and regional levels to be committed to fulfilling the daily nutritional needs and medical services of every child as well.

She said she is optimistic that the combination of adequate nutrition from an early age and an education system that can meet the demands of the job market will result in strong and competitive human resources.

Source: Antara News

Indonesia to pursue concrete collaboration at 10th WWF: minister

Jakarta- As the host of the 10th World Water Forum (WWF) in 2024, Indonesia will focus on pursuing cooperation programs, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has informed.

“Like G20 Indonesia, we want exact measures after the WWF is running. Every program pursued, every issue being discussed, there must be concrete measures that we can follow up on,” he said during a coordination meeting on the preparations for the WWF here on Friday.

The coordination meeting was led by Pandjaitan as chair of the 10th WWF National Committee. Public Works and Public Housing Minister and the leader of the national committee, Basuki Hadimuljono; Deputy Minister of Health Dante Saksono Harbuwono; and Head of the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency Dwikorita Karnawati, also joined the meeting.

The meeting discussed necessities ranging from logistics, transportation, delegation accreditation, safety and security, to the publication of activities.

“This water issue is very important currently for the global community and Indonesia. For the first time, too, Indonesia is hosting this forum. This will be a good step for Indonesia and the global community to inform of the importance of water for everyone’s welfare,” he emphasized.

He said he expected the results of water management on the Citarum River in West Java and Lake Batur in Bali to be showcased at the event.

He also appealed to committee members to maintain solidarity in organizing the international event.

“Indonesia’s appointment as the host was not an easy process, and now, we have this opportunity. Let’s coordinate everything as best as possible,” he said.

The 10th WWF, which will be held from May 18 to 24, 2024, will be themed

“Water for Shared Prosperity.”

According to Hadimuljono, the discussions at the 10th WWF will cover six topics and are expected to lead to actual measures that ensure the use of water for global community welfare.

The six topics are water for humans and nature, water security and prosperity, disaster risk reduction and management, cooperation and hydro-diplomacy, water and innovative finance, and knowledge and technologies.

“We need to follow up the six sub-topics at the 10th WWF properly. We will present these six sub-topics at the kick-off meeting of the 10th World Water Forum, which will be held on February 15 and 16, 2023, in Jakarta. There is a target of 1 thousand people participating, and until now, there have been a total of 672 people who have registered. We expect that the kick-off meeting later can be a good start for the 10th WWF,” the minister elaborated.

The World Water Forum is an event held every three years by the World Water Council, the Global Water Partnership, and the host country.

Indonesia was chosen to host the 10th WWF after 30 out of 36 countries included in the board of governors of the World Water Council voted in its favor.The event will serve as an important forum for all stakeholders in the water sector on a global scale.

Source: Antara News

Minister asks RCCE group to continue raising health awareness

Jakarta- Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has asked the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Working Group to continue disseminating information on health issues in Indonesia even though COVID-19 cases are on the decline.

“I want to thank the RCCE Working Group fellows who have helped Indonesia since (the first case of) COVID-19 was found in March 2020. Thank God, thanks to all of our cooperation, we can handle the pandemic well,” he remarked in a press release issued on Friday.

The health problems faced by Indonesia cannot be handled by just one ministry or agency, but need the involvement of all parties, the minister added.

Thus, he said he expected the RCCE Working Group to keep helping the government even though COVID-19 has been brought under control since there are many other health problems, which must also be addressed, such as diabetes that can trigger heart and kidney diseases.

“In most cases, it also causes kidney injury. Thus, people need to have dialysis for hours at the hospital every week,” Sadikin informed.

He asked the RCCE Working Group to take part in promoting a healthy lifestyle for preventing diabetes among the public in collaboration with the Directorate General of Public Health of the Health Ministry.

The RCCE Working Group was established at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia to ensure that the public gets the right information amid rampant circulation of false information regarding the pandemic.

The working group also plays a role in coordinating COVID-19 response efforts carried out by various institutions at the national and local levels.

The RCCE Working Group also advocates for fair and inclusive COVID-19 handling policies as well as provides inputs on communication strategies to disseminate the latest pandemic situation to the community.

The RCCE Working Group consists of various national and local government institutions, civil organizations, media, private sector, youth organizations, religious organizations, academics, as well as practitioners.

Source: Antara News

Optimize village funds to tackle stunting, extreme poverty: Minister

Jakarta- Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy has urged local governments to optimize the use of village funds and regional budgets (APBD) for stunting handling and extreme poverty eradication.

There are three priority areas for the utilization of village funds, namely strengthening food security, eradicating extreme poverty, and reducing the stunting prevalence rate, he noted in a statement issued on Friday.

Village funds can be used to implement various labor-intensive programs to handle stunting and extreme poverty, such as nutrition fulfillment intervention and sanitation facility improvement measures, he added.

“For instance, village funds can be allocated to provide assistance for impoverished people to raise chickens, (thus) the meat can be eaten (by them), and when the chickens lay eggs, the eggs can also be consumed, (hence, meeting the nutritional needs of people), while, at the same time, also realizing food security,” he said.

Meanwhile, regarding the improvement of sanitation facilities, the coordinating minister suggested that the village funds be used to build latrines, toilets, and clean water infrastructure.

The local community can get wages from working in the labor-intensive programs as well as enjoy the infrastructure or other results developed through the program, he added.

“Through these attempts, all three priorities can be met simultaneously by utilizing village funds,” he remarked.

He emphasized that stunting and extreme poverty are among the problems that can affect various aspects of people’s life, hence tackling them is a priority program of the government in 2023.

“The handling of stunting and extreme poverty becomes priority program that requires the active role of all parties,” Effendy stated.

Stunting and extreme poverty are two issues that are related to each other, he added.

“(Usually) stunting is triggered by extreme poverty condition, which makes it difficult (for impoverished people) in getting basic needs as well as accessing clean water and sanitation facilities,” he explained.

The government is targeting to reduce the national stunting prevalence rate to 14 percent as well as achieve zero extreme poverty by 2024.

Source: Antara News