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President Joko Widodo mandates an innovative approach to fighting COVID-19 and TB in Indonesia

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) of Indonesia recently convened a High-Level Meeting in Jakarta on the 21st of July to accelerate the elimination of tuberculosis by utilising the country’s COVID-19 tracking protocols.

“We now already have a model for COVID-19, which is aggressive tracking. We will adapt this tracking model for TB,” said President Jokowi.

President Joko Widodo chaired a Limited High Level Meeting to accelerate TB Elimination in Indonesia, Jakarta, Tuesday (21/7) source

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported an estimated 845,000 new TB cases in 2018 and 98,000 people died from the disease in that same year. Of the new cases, only 562,000 were notified and 33% remained unreported.

Indonesia carries the third highest TB burden in the world, behind India and China. The government of Indonesia’s target is to eliminate TB by 2030, in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.

"It is not only the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs to eliminate TB, all Ministries must be involved," said President Widodo. "If necessary, we will issue a Presidential Regulation or Ministerial Regulation immediately, so that actions to find, treat, and heal people with TB will be implemented.”

During the meeting, President Jokowi issued three specific mandates:

  1. Aggressive tracking to find TB cases mirroring contact tracing protocols for COVID-19.

  2. TB services, including diagnostic and treatment, must continue, and the stock of medicines must also be made available.

  3. Cross ministerial and cross sectoral approach for TB awareness, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The President closed with a hopeful statement of determination on the possibilities and benefits of working on TB and COVID-19 in tandem: “We can accomplish two things that are important for the health of our people. If we work together to implement these actions effectively, we will reach our goals more quickly.”

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