Member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have accepted Indonesia’s bid to become the center of excellence in vaccine supply and production.
With the endorsement, Indonesia is required to assist members in achieving pharmaceutical and medicine self-reliance within the bloc.
“This will be a challenge for us,” said Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi in a press conference after the OIC’s fourth Islamic Conference of Health Ministers (ICHM) on Thursday.
“We have more pre-qualified vaccines compared to other member states and we have also exported them within the bloc.”
Indonesia has an upper-hand in producing vaccines as state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma has produced 10 types of vaccines, including those for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis-Hepatitis B (PTP-HB), DTP, measles, BCG and an oral polio vaccine (OPV).
The vaccines have all been endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and have been exported to 123 countries worldwide, including to OIC members.
The director general of pharmacy and medical equipment services at the Health Ministry, Maura Linda Sitanggang, said that as a center of excellence, Indonesia was ready to help state members produce vaccines and other pharmaceutical products.
According to Maura, the short-term cooperation with OIC members will include assistance in preparing vaccine material, while the mid-term cooperation will involve assisting member states in vaccine production with assistance from Bio Farma.
Under the long-term cooperation, Indonesia will initiate research for a new vaccine, which will include research on a human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
“The appointment will benefit Indonesia in terms of research because there will be joint research with other OIC members that will obviously reduce costs,” she added.
According to Maura, Indonesia is in the process of getting an endorsement from the WHO for its recently launched Pentavalent vaccine — a vaccine that combines five antigens that includes diphteria, Pertussis, tetanus, Hepatitis B (HB) and Haemophilus Influenza type B (Hib).
Should the endorsement be realized, Bio Farma will get a license to export the vaccine.
Nafsiah also said that OIC members would cooperate in exchanging human resources, such as doctors and nurses to help share knowledge and expertise.
“We will also exchange knowledge with member states that have succeeded in achieving their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), such as in the area of maternal mortality reduction as exemplified by Bangladesh and Mali,” she said.
Indonesia is among 14 countries from a total of 57 member states within the OIC that are behind in achieving their 2015 MDGs on reducing child mortality, improving maternal health as well as combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
The OIC health conference, which was attended by health ministers from 11 countries, has produced action programs that will be adopted by OIC members for the next ten years, as well as recommendations for the post-2015 development agenda.
The first OIC health conference was held in Malaysia in 2007, during which all member states agreed to hold the conference every two years. The second event was held in Iran in 2009 while the third in Kazakhstan in 2011.