Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi speaks at a press conference on the fresh shipment of Covid-19 vaccine from Covax Facility at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten, on May 8, 2021. (Twitter Photo @Menlu_RI)

Health Diplomacy Remains a Priority for Indonesia in 2022: Minister

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

JANUARY 06, 2022

Jakarta. Indonesia’s top diplomat recently revealed the country’s plans to place health diplomacy amongst its priorities as it enters 2022, in a bid to promote an inclusive global recovery from Covid-19 and help make the world more prepared for future pandemics.

“In 2022, health diplomacy will remain a priority for Indonesia,” Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said during her annual press conference on Thursday.

According to Retno, the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us how crucial robust national and global health resilience is. The minister said, “We must strengthen the global health architecture to better prepare the world in facing any future pandemic threat.”

To this end, Indonesia’s G20 presidency in 2022 will focus on the strengthening of the global health architecture, among other things. 

Retno added, “Inclusiveness is the spirit of Indonesia’s [G20] presidency. Indonesia wishes the G20 to be a catalyst for global recovery and concrete cooperation that benefits developing countries.” 

In her remarks, Retno expressed Indonesia’s support for a new pandemic treaty, which she considered necessary for global pandemic preparedness.

“Indonesia is ready to contribute constructively in the negotiation process of such pandemic treaty,” she told the conference, while also calling for the establishment of a new health financing mechanism for developing nations.

Global Vaccine Equity
Throughout the pandemic-ridden 2021, Indonesia has been actively pursuing health diplomacy, among others, to secure enough vaccines for its citizens. 

More than 20.15 percent of the vaccines which Indonesia had received came from Covax — a global vaccine distribution mechanism— or other dose-sharing schemes with friendly countries, according to Retno. 

“Indonesia has administered more than 270 million doses, [our vaccination coverage] ranks fifth globally after China, India, the US, and Brazil,” she said. 

But the world still struggles with an alarming vaccination gap. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus —the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) —reported in mid-December 2021 that some 41 nations had not been able to vaccinate 10 percent of their populations. About 98 countries have also not yet reached the 40 percent mark. 

“Indonesia continues to call for vaccine equity for all countries, and we advocate this cause in every international forum,” said Retno, who also co-chairs the Covax AMC Engagement Group.

Retno revealed the Covax facility had distributed at least 811 million doses to 144 countries and entities as of end-2021. She added, “looking ahead, Covax will continue to strengthen its distribution, logistical, and health workforce capacity in recipient countries.”

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