"Especially for diphtheria, the East Java administration has allocated extra funds amounting to Rp8 billion, and received from the central government Rp13 billion to tackle the disease, to buy vaccines, for surveillance, etc.," Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said here recently, after closing a coordinating meeting on preparations for 2012 as the year of Routine Immunization Intensification and Extra Immunization Campaign against Measles and Polio 2011.
Minister Endang expressed her concern over the diphtheria outbreak in East Java. Immunization for babies is crucial to prevent such an outbreak to recur, according to her.
"Immunization is the most cost effective program to reduce the morbidity and mortality rates of vaccine-preventable diseases," she said.
Since Indonesia has conducted its first mass immunization program in 1956, the country was relatively safe from fatal disease outbreaks.
The health ministry`s director general of disease control and environmental health, Tjandra Yoga Aditama, said the mass immunization program is one of the priority programs of the health ministry as preventive measure and the government`s commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in particular to reduce the children and maternal mortality rate.
Immunization in Indonesia covers BCG, DPT Hb, polio, measles, and Hepatitis B.65.781
In 2008, only around 68.3 percent of 65,781 villages had achieved Universal Child Immunization (UCI) target, and following an acceleration program in 2010, the UCI coverage increased to 75.3 percent of 75,990 villages.
For measles, Indonesia has been able to reduce the number from 180,000 cases in 1990 to around 20,000 cases in 2010, and cut the mortality rate by 90 percent.
Since 2009, the government has launched additional mass immunizations in three stages until 2011.
The last or third state is being conducted in 17 provinces, namely Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, West Nusa Tenggara, Lampung, Papua, East, South, Central and West Kalimantan, as well as South, West, Southeast, Central and North Sulawesi, and Gorontalo.
The last stage is being carried out for one month as of October 18, 2011, in the 17 provinces, with the targets of giving measles vaccines to 14 million children, polio vaccines to 16.6 million children.(*)