Jakarta (ANTARA) - Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has asked Indonesians to wear masks outdoors to prevent respiratory diseases caused by air pollution.

"We recommend at least KF94 or KF95 masks because harmful PM 2.5 can enter the blood vessels," Sadikin said after attending a limited meeting held to discuss air pollution at the Presidential Palace here on Monday. The meeting was led by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi).

The minister asked people experiencing pain in the respiratory tract or other discomfort to immediately visit the nearest local health center (puskesmas) or hospital.

"We will tell doctors about what kind of treatment (can alleviate respiratory diseases caused by air pollution)," he said.

He added that his ministry will also collaborate with the Persahabatan General Hospital, which is the referral hospital for the Greater Jakarta area.

"That way, people who visit the puskesmas or hospitals (for respiratory issues), the diagnosis and treatment will be the same," Sadikin said.

During the limited meeting, the minister gave a report to President Widodo about six respiratory diseases that can be caused by air pollution, namely pneumonia, acute respiratory infection (ARI), asthma, lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and tuberculosis.

He said that state health insurer BPJS Kesehatan will need to spend Rp10 trillion to fund treatment for respiratory diseases.

The Health Ministry has formed a committee for combating respiratory diseases and air pollution in response to worsening air pollution levels of late.

Air pollution has increased ARI cases in Greater Jakarta to an average of 200 thousand per month, the minister informed.

The data was compiled based on reports received from puskesmas and hospitals in the past month.

The Ministry of Health and the committee are also conducting regular surveillance every week to monitor the rate of ARI and pneumonia cases in puskesmas and hospitals, along with the implementation of early vigilance and response.

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Translator: Yashinta P, Kenzu
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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