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Indonesia's Widodo calls for vaccine equity

President issues plea to rich countries to share but admits lack of access and Covid errors had led to many deaths

Indonesia's Widodo calls for vaccine equity

Indonesian President Joko Widodo wants help from rich countries. (Photo courtesy of the Cabinet Secretariat) 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called for Covid-19 vaccine equity in the world, urging advanced countries to share vaccines with poor ones in order to “overcome this pandemic together.”

“It should not be just a few countries that get all the vaccines, and some other countries get only a little,” he told the BBC in an Oct. 27 virtual interview from the presidential palace in Jakarta.

“Everyone has helped, but in my opinion it is not enough. In this time of crisis, advanced countries need to do more in helping poor countries get vaccines so that we can overcome this pandemic together,” he said.

His comments came ahead of the G20 summit and the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) where he is expected to repeat the call when he meets other world leaders.

Widodo also admitted that his administration had made mistakes in managing the pandemic and said that “our hospitals, our facilities were full and could not handle the load and that led to a lot of deaths.”

Indonesia, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, reported its highest number of daily deaths attributed to Covid-19 in July when at least 1,200 people were dying each day and more than 54,000 new cases were being recorded.

This is for the sake of humanity as a whole. There must be equity. Everyone must have an equal right to access health care

The government has set a new target of administering 2.5 million vaccine shots per day in October, aiming to meet its target of inoculating 80 percent of the targeted population — around 208.2 million people — by the end of this year.

So far Indonesia has received more than 300 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines including Sinovac and Pfizer, according to authorities.

Widodo made the same call on vaccine equity on Oct. 26 to leaders attending a virtual session of the 38th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

He urged them to continue buying Covid-19 vaccines and fight against discrimination and the politicization of vaccines, and to speak out about the importance of vaccine equity for all.

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Speaking to UCA News on Oct. 29, Muliawan Margadana, coordinator of the Catholic Network Against Covid-19 (JKMC-19), stressed the importance of Widodo’s call.

“This is for the sake of humanity as a whole. There must be equity. Everyone must have an equal right to access health care. Therefore, rich countries must help poor ones,” he said.

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