House Members Aim to Clean Up Indonesia’s Health Services
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The House of Representatives is drafting a law to help ensure that medicine and health services meet international standards, a lawmaker said on Wednesday.
The law would create a way to supervise the country’s pharmaceutical supplies, health equipment and hospital logistics, said Taufik Kurniawan, the National Mandate Party’s (PAN) House deputy speaker.
“The umbrella is supervision,” he said on Wednesday after meeting with other lawmakers to form a special committee to discuss the law.
“The supervision will mainly be linked to the standard of equipment and drugs, and it would also arrange the supervision of imported drugs.”
Lawmakers have appointed Irgan Chairul Mahfiz from the United Development Party (PPP) to serve as chairman of the special committee.
The committee will also include lawmakers from House Commission I, which handles foreign affairs, and Commission IV, which deals with state-owned enterprises and industry, because the draft law will discuss measures to supervise state companies that provide drugs.
Democratic Party lawmaker Nova Riyanti Yusuf said the new legislation was intended to give more power to the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM).
“The [BPOM] will be tasked with raising awareness for the rational use of medicine in Indonesia,” she said.
However, Nova said the bill would likely generate heated debate.
“There is a high potential for a conflict of interest,” she said, adding that the law would have to balance public health concerns with the demands of large pharmaceutical companies.
It was not clear whether the bill would help prevent the rampant corruption that has plagued the procurement of vaccines and medical equipment.
Former Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari was named a suspect in April for the illicit procurement of health equipment worth Rp 15.5 billion ($1.7 million).
According to the National Police, the value of the project was allegedly marked up by 12 percent, resulting in Rp 6.14 billion in state losses.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has investigated three other cases linked to the procurement of health equipment and vaccines, including two that occurred during Siti’s tenure.
Siti’s predecessor, Achmad Sujudi, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison in 2010 for his role in a graft case that involved inflating the budget for contracts to supply medical equipment to remote regions.