Agriculture Ministry's 'COVID-19 inhaler' draws flack from legislators

Agriculture Ministry's 'COVID-19 inhaler' draws flack from legislators

The eucalyptus-based aromatheraphy oil necklace, roll-on, and balm developed by the Agriculture Ministry. (ANTARA/HO-Badan Litbang Pertanian)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Several legislators raised questions on a product developed by the Agriculture Ministry, which claims to provide relief to COVID-19 patients, at a hearing session with ministry officials here on Tuesday.

Mindo Sianipar, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle faction, said he hoped the information on the ministry's eucalyptus-based aromatheraphy oil necklace, roll-on, and balm would not mislead the people because the inhaler is yet to pass any pre-clinical or clinical test.

At the hearing session of Commission IV of the House of Representatives (DPR), which oversees food and agriculture, Suhardi Duka, a legislator representing the Democratic Party faction, also questioned the relevance of the ministry developing the inhaling product.

Medicines and health products need to ideally be issued by the Ministry of Health, while one of the Ministry of Agriculture's tasks is ensuring Indonesia's food security, he argued.

Therefore, Duka said, he was not sure that the eucalyptus-based inhaling product would easily win public trust if the Ministry of Agriculture distributed it.

Meanwhile Ahmad Ali, member of the National Democratic (Nasdem) Party Faction, expressed his appreciation of the ministry's contribution to Indonesia's endeavors to fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through its innovative product.

However, Ali suggested that the eucalyptus-based inhaler be carefully named so people are not mislead. So far, there have been no research-backed claims about any product effectively eliminating COVID-19 infections anywhere in the world, he added.

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Meanwhile, the University of Indonesia hinted on Sunday that it is ready to work with the Ministry of Agriculture's Veterinary Research Agency to conduct animal testing and clinical trials for the product.

The Indonesian government has been supporting research and innovation projects to help the nation battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The government-sponsored research and innovation projects are prioritizing four areas: prevention, filtering and diagnosis; medical equipment and supporting devices; medicines and therapies; and, social humanities.

Several leading universities in Indonesia have made concrete contributions to efforts to save lives: from developing much-needed devices to conducting research on COVID-19 treatment.

A team of scientists from the faculties of medicine and engineering at the University of Indonesia (UI), for instance, has developed a ventilator called COVENT-20 for patients suffering from the novel coronavirus disease.

As published on UI's official website, the Indonesian Health Ministry has declared the ventilator has passed human clinical trials.

The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) has also developed a ventilator for COVID-19 patients, in collaboration with the Pembina Masjid Salman Foundation and Faculty of Medicine, Padjadjaran University (UNPAD). (INE)

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