Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged richer countries to share their vaccines with poorer ones in an exclusive interview with the BBC.
Widodo said “it shouldn’t be just a few countries that get all the vaccines, and some other countries only get some.”
He was speaking prior to a visit to the G20 and COP26 meetings, where he will meet other world leaders.
Indonesia was one of the countries most affected by the Covid pandemic.
President Jokowi – as he is popularly known – also argued why there should be more equity for vaccines so that developing and poorer countries are not left behind in this pandemic.
“Everyone helped, but in my opinion it’s not enough,” he said, in a virtual interview from the Indonesian presidential palace in Jakarta.
“In this time of crisis, advanced countries need to do more to help poor countries get vaccines so they can overcome this pandemic together.”
Widodo’s comments come as Indonesia attempts to recover from the ravages of the pandemic. At its peak, the country officially registered more than 50,000 cases per day, but the real numbers may have been higher. According to government data, nearly 150,000 people have died.
People died in their homes, out of breath as oxygen supplies ran out across the archipelago. The sick were turned away from the overflowing hospitals and funeral cemeteries ran out of space for the dead.
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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the country “was teetering on the brink of a Covid-19 catastrophe.”
But Widodo’s administration initially downplayed the disease. His former health minister Terawan Agus Putranto said the country would be spared from the virus, thanks to “all prayers”.
In the interview, he acknowledged his administration’s mistakes in handling the pandemic, stating that it was due to the lack of health infrastructure in the country.
“Our hospitals, our facilities were full and they couldn’t handle the load,” he said, “and this has led to many deaths.”
The COVID situation has improved since then, with both deaths and cases declining, according to government data.
The vaccination campaign has also started. According to the latest data from the World Bank, Indonesia has administered more than 100 million doses of vaccines in the country, with nearly 30% of the population fully vaccinated, not an easy feat in a huge archipelago.
But while urban areas like Jakarta are seeing high levels of vaccination rates, rural areas are harder to reach.
“The difference between the structures is enormous [between rural and urban areas], this is what we need to reform, “said Widodo.” For example there is no ICU in some hospitals, we have to fix it and buy the equipment and prepare these facilities so that we can improve it. “
But critics say the problem wasn’t just a lack of investment in health care – it was a lack of government preparedness that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths when they could have been saved.
Among these health workers, who had been inoculated using the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, the one Indonesia used for the first time in its attempts to vaccinate its population.
Authorities later added more vaccines to the mix and were able to source more supplies. But the delay in obtaining vaccines for the large population has cost the country dearly.
That’s why Widodo is pushing for developing countries to host vaccine manufacturing facilities, a proposal that he will bring with him to the G20 meeting where he will meet his global colleagues.
Earlier this year, leaked documents seen by the BBC showed that rich countries have attempted to block the vaccine production capacities of poorer nations, citing patent protection and funding new research for future vaccines.
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This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source