9 December 2019 (closed)
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Relatively frequently Indonesia is shocked by major scandals; usually it is a high-profile corruption case involving politicians or big businessmen but since Friday (24/06) a new scandal arose that has been keeping local media busy. This scandal is more sensitive as it involves the health of little children. Apparently, fake vaccines have been given to children - primarily to babies under one year old - across Java for the past 13 years. Police arrested a total of 16 people on grounds that they have been involved in the production and distribution of fake counterfeit vaccines.
After a three-month investigation, Indonesian police concluded that the fake vaccines have been sold to hospitals and medical facilities across Java, the most populous island of Indonesia. Police in fact suspect that some hospitals, other medical facilities and drugstores are involved as well in this scandal. The fake vaccines case became known after a major Indonesian pharmaceutical company alerted Indonesian authorities because several of the company's products had been counterfeited.
Indonesian authorities are currently investigating how far the syndicate actually reached. Indonesia's National Food and Drugs Agency already confiscated vaccines from nearly 30 health clinics in Indonesia. Apparently, some hospitals, clinics and pharmacies obtained these fake vaccines through unofficial distribution channels in Jakarta, Banten, West Java, Central Java and Yogyakarta.
According to the Indonesian Pediatricians Association (IDAI), the fake vaccines are basically harmless (and there have not been any reports of fatal incidents - that can be related to the vaccine - after a vaccination). However, fake vaccines imply that children have not been protected against diseases such as hepatitis B, measles, polio and tuberculosis. The IDAI and Indonesia's Health Ministry therefore call for children aged below 12 years of age to be re-vaccinated.
The scandal causes widespread condemnation in Indonesia because the criminals jeopardize the health of little children in exchange for a couple of million rupiahs per week. Indonesian President Joko Widodo therefore said - quite rightfully - the harshest possible punishment should be given for this grave crime.
Give them the death penalty.