Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) instructed Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin to take requisite steps to immediately detect Indonesians suffering from tuberculosis (TB).

"President Jokowi gave us direction to work with the minister of home affairs and the minister of villages to carry out detection of all Indonesians regarding TB cases. It must be started as soon as possible," Sadikin remarked after attending a limited meeting regarding the acceleration of tuberculosis elimination at the Jakarta Presidential Palace on Tuesday.

He noted that based on estimation, there are 969 thousand TB sufferers in Indonesia every year.

Earlier, only 545 thousand of these patients could be identified, while the remaining 400 thousand were not detected. However, with the aggressiveness of government programs to prevent and treat TB, the detection of TB sufferers has increased to 720 thousand, he explained.

"We hope that by 2024, some 90 percent of the estimated 969 thousand can be found or detected," Sadikin stated.

Related news: President to influence TB patients into completing treatment: Minister

The minister remarked that one of the problems related to TB treatment is the patients' reluctance to take medication according to the recommended time frame.

"TB patients must take the medicine for at least six months. It consists of five to seven pills. Some of them are reluctant to take the antibiotics medicine until the complete cycle. It can lead to (them becoming) antibiotic-resistant and makes it more difficult for us to treat them because the treatment can last up to 20 months," he explained.

To address this matter, the minister said the government will mobilize the community to help disseminate information on the provisions for taking TB medicine.

The minister also directly sought the president's willingness to be able to endorse or support recommendations for taking TB medicine to the public.

Moreover, Sadikin remarked that currently, three potential new TB vaccines will soon be imported as a form of TB prevention, namely the recombinant protein TB vaccine from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and two other vaccine candidates currently being studied by the government, namely mRNA (BioNTech - Biofarma) and viral vector (CanSino - Etana).

According to the minister, mRNA vaccines work faster than other vaccines, similar to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in handling COVID-19.

Related news: President seeks quarantine facilities for TB patients

Translator: Rangga Pandu A J, Resinta S
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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