Indonesia’s Strong Commitment to Immunization Program

Photo by Andy Sirait

Minister of Health, Dr Nila Moeloek, inaugurated four new national committees on 27 November 2015 to strengthen the immunization programme in the country. These committees are the National Committee for Polio Eradication, the National Certification Committee for Polio Eradication, the Expert Committee for Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) and the National Verification Committee for Measles Elimination and Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) Control.

The National Committee for Polio Eradication will work to provide oversight and ensure implementation of Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategy. The main activities of this strategy include efforts to detect and interrupt all poliovirus transmission, to strengthen immunization system, to gradually shift the use of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and introduce inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), to ensure containment and certification of all polioviruses and support legacy planning.

The National Certification Committee for Polio Eradication was established in 1997 to work towards polio eradication and supported efforts in Indonesia that contributed to the WHO South East Asia Region being certified polio-free in March 2014. The committee has been activated with the role to provide oversight for polio eradication since Indonesia continues to face the risk of importation of wild poliovirus from currently polio-infected areas as well as the risk of emergence of vaccine derived polioviruses.

The Expert Committee for Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) was also founded in 1997 but some members have retired and a new committee has been established. This committee will be responsible for the monitoring of AFP data. Most AFP reports need improvement of quality. The committee will review the quality in order to improve AFP data which eventually will determine actions to prevent and control the disease. It will also ensure that all AFP cases will have final classification.

The National Verification Committee for Measles elimination and rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) control has been recently established. The national target for measles elimination and rubella and CRS control is 2020.

Supporting the immunization programmes, the government has developed guidelines for the accreditation of the laboratories supporting polio and measles control, and is investing in the capacity building of the laboratories.

In her speech the Minister re-iterated Indonesia’s commitment for accelerating efforts towards strengthen routine immunization programme and implementing the global polio endgame strategy. The Minister highlighted the upcoming events namely the nationwide polio vaccination campaign in March 2016, the switch from trivalent oral polio vaccine to bivalent oral polio vaccine in April 2016 and the introduction of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in July 2016. The plans for elimination of measles and control of rubella/CRS by 2020 were also highlighted.

To maintain the polio-free status, Indonesia must maintain high population immunity against polio, ensure that surveillance for poliovirus detection meets the global standards and the country is in a state of readiness to respond to any polio outbreak as a public health emergency.