Jakarta – Civil society groups are calling on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to cancel, not postpone, the Gotong Royong paid vaccine program. The Civil Society Coalition is also calling on the government not to make a profit from vaccinations.
"There must be a refocusing of the state budget and the president as the supreme head of state must be able to revoke this policy. So it should not just be postponed, because we know that [the state-owned pharmaceutical company] Kimia Farma has postponed the paid vaccines but the paid vaccines must be cancelled and the policy revoked", said Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti during a virtual press conference titled Calling for the Cancellation of Paid Vaccines which was broadcast on the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation's (YLBHI) YouTube channel on Monday July 12.
"So a postponement is not the solution, not a way out, but a cancelation of paid vaccines, it must be cancelled because if not in the end we will know that Jokowi is recanting on his own words when he said that vaccines will not be paid, free vaccines, but in the end we see today that there are paid vaccines", she said.
Speaking in the same vein as Maulidiyanti, volunteer Amanda Tan from the citizen data group Lapor Covid-19 revealed that based on the Indonesian Constitution and the World Health Organisation (WHO), vaccines are public goods which cannot be traded in, so vaccines must be given out free because this is related to saving lives and social rights.
"So from this it is very unethical for the government to trade in goods which should be a public right where it must be made free and not incur illegal fees from any party whatsoever", she said.
Tan highlighted that the commercialisation of vaccines is a violation and as a consequence it will create social inequality.
Tan said that the government's free vaccine program is not yet perfect and that Lapor Covid-19 has received a lot of reports about obstacles such as long queues and crowds at vaccination centres and poor vaccine management. Tan however said that paid vaccines are not the solution.
"So from this we from the Civil Society Coalition strongly oppose the Gotong Royong vaccination program for individuals", she said.
Meanwhile, YLBHI Chairperson Asfinawati said that under the Health Quarantine Law it regulates that the government is obliged to provide healthcare services.
In addition to this, President Widodo has also issued a presidential decree (Keppres) on enforcing a public health emergency and a presidential decree on non-natural disasters and medications related to the pandemic. Because of this, Asfinawati believes that the Corona vaccine must be free.
"What is the Keppres for if its contents is not followed", asked Asfinawati. "This is very dangerous, right, so if we borrow from the term used by students recently, the Gotong Royong vaccination [program] is lip service from the presidential decree on the emergency status of non-natural national disasters", she said.
Asfinawati said that they plan to submit a judicial review over the Gotong Royong vaccination program if paid vaccinations are continued.
"We in the Coalition have of course been thinking about follow up steps if this is continued, earlier many comrades said revoke the Gotong Royong vaccination stipulations and give the public what is their right during the pandemic, which is becoming increasingly burdensome, and because of this, if this is not done then we will take legal steps, one of which is a judicial review", she said.
In the same vein as Asfinawati, Lokataru Foundation Executive Director Haris Azhar said that the trading in corona vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic is an illegal trade of authority.
"I think that this is callous, evil, a state policy that wants to sell vaccines in the midst of a crisis such as this, I think this is an illegal trade of authority. So it is as if this is a ministerial regulation but actually this shows that there is alleged corruption of the legal process in the midst of dealing with the pandemic. This is dangerous, harmful, and violates the standard values of legal norms, human rights and government management", said Azhar. (yld/dnu)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Koalisi Masyarakat Sipil Minta Jokowi Batalkan Vaksinasi Berbayar".]