Circulation of fake vaccines constitutes crime against humanity

"If the vaccines prove to be spurious, the perpetrators should be given appropriate punishment in accordance with existing laws," Health Minister Nila F Moeloek said.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The circulation of fake vaccines should not recur in Indonesia as it constitutes crime against humanity.

The victims of such a heinous crime are innocent infants, the next generation of this nation, and therefore, the perpetrators must be punished severely.

The circulation of such spurious vaccines, which had been going on for 13 years, indirectly amounts to killing an entire generation of Indonesians, and the perpetrators deserve exemplary punishment.

Therefore, the police must thoroughly investigate the perpetrators of fake vaccines and the buyers as their actions are detrimental to society.

In the investigation into the cases of fake vaccines, those involved are expected to be severely punished, while sanctions will be imposed on the buyers to ensure greater accountability towards patients, especially children.

The exposure of the fake vaccine scam in Indonesia could threaten the countrys immunization programs and shake the publics trust in food and medicine supplies.

Saleh Partaonan Daulay, a member of the Houses Commission IX, remarked here on Monday that healthcare facilities and health workers that have been working professionally will not be associated with the cases of fake vaccines but still be trusted by the community.

"Fears of healthcare facilities and health professionals, especially pediatricians, losing the publics trust in connection with the use of fake vaccines in numerous hospitals are something overblown. They will continue to be trusted by the public as long as they work professionally," Daulay remarked.

The politician of the National Mandate Party noted that even if some healthcare facilities and health workers were otherwise involved in the circulation of fake vaccines, the public would not lose confidence in those professionals.

According to Daulay, the disclosure of the names of healthcare facilities and health workers that had allegedly used fake vaccines is not meant for judgment but merely to clear the publics doubts.

In this way, all parties have the right to oversee the process of resolving cases of fake vaccines. If there are irregularities in the resolution, Daulay said it must be reported to the Task Force of the Ministry of Health, the Police, or the House of Representatives.

"The suspects will not be condemned in any judicial process. The principle of presumption of innocence will always be a priority," he added.

However, Health Minister Nila F Moeloek has stated that she would not tolerate the distribution of fake vaccines because it was hazardous, especially for babies.

The distribution of fake vaccines would not be tolerated, as the Ministry of Health was opposed to all forms of counterfeiting that endangered the lives of Indonesians, she reiterated.

To that end, the health ministry strongly supported law enforcement efforts, and the steps taken by authorities in uncovering cases of counterfeit vaccines and revealing the identities of the parties involved.

"If the vaccines prove to be spurious, the perpetrators should be given appropriate punishment in accordance with existing laws," she said.

The health minister also appealed to all hospitals and healthcare facilities to provide vaccines from authorized distributors and manufacturers including through e-catalogs.

Earlier, the sale of fake vaccines to a number of hospitals was uncovered by the police.

The National Police Criminal Investigation Unit successfully arrested the perpetrators in their factory located in Pondok Aren, Tangerang, where fake vaccines against measles, polio, hepatitis B, and tetanus, in addition to BCG, were being produced for many years.

Five persons suspected of manufacturing and distributing spurious vaccines for babies had been arrested, Director of Economic Crimes and Special Criminal Investigation Police Brigadier General Agung Setya stated.

Officials have confiscated hundreds of vials of vaccines for diseases ranging from measles, BCG, pentabio, and hepatitis B, apart from polio and tetanus, as well as other chemical substances and medical instruments.

The three-month-long investigation into this case has now revealed that fake vaccines for infant immunization had been in circulation for decades.

The Indonesian Consumers Institute has asked the government to adopt a firm stance against distributors of spurious vaccines.

According to Indonesian Consumers Institute Chairman Tulus Abadi, all parties, such as government employees and hospital workers involved in distributing such vaccines, must receive severe punishment.

If it is proved that the management of a hospital was involved in the falsification, use and distribution of fake vaccines, it should be made to face both criminal and civil cases.

If civil servants are involved, they must face exemplary sanctions in the form of sacking. "Private company employees should also be taken to court to face the criminal process," Tulus Abadi noted.

Private hospitals which are found to have knowingly used spurious vaccines should have their licenses revoked or should be shut down.

However, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has called on the people to remain calm as appropriate steps were being taken regarding the issue of fake vaccines in the country.

The head of state expressed hope that people would have faith and remain calm because he has ordered the Minister of Health to resolve the issue and seek a solution to the problem.

President Jokowi has ordered the Minister of Health to settle the problem, both within the ministry and with other parties such as the regional governments.

He advised that the regional governments need to be involved to settle the problem completely, and the people should remain calm because this is not a matter of one or two years.

The president informed that so far, 20 people have been named as suspects and the number could increase.(*)