Indonesia seeks to reassure HIV patients over drug supplies

Should the upcoming tender fail to be met by April, the health ministry had secured an additional 560,000 bottles of the separate TLE pills from the fund. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 January 2019
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Indonesia seeks to reassure HIV patients over drug supplies

  • More than 300,000 patients in Indonesia relied on ARV doses last year
  • Should the upcoming tender fail to be met by April, the health ministry had secured an additional 560,000 bottles of the separate TLE pills from the fund

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s health ministry has sought to reassure HIV patients that sufficient antiretroviral (ARV) drugs will be available for their treatment after some hospitals had run out of supplies.
At least 29 hospitals and health centers in Indonesia had exhausted their stocks of a particular type of ARV, known as a fixed-dose combination of Tenofovir, Lamivudin and Efavirens (TLE), Aditya Wardhana of the Indonesia AIDS Coalition, a non-governmental organization, told a news conference.
The health ministry confirmed that a tender to procure some ARV drugs last year had failed, but said it had imported some of the TLE through The Global Fund, an international financing organization to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Still, the Indonesia AIDS Coalition called for more emergency purchases via the fund, and urged President Joko Widodo to intervene.
More than 300,000 patients in Indonesia relied on ARV doses last year, according to Health Ministry data.
Engko Sosialine Magdalene, director general of pharmaceutical and medical devices at the ministry, said the country has enough fixed-dose ARV to last until May.
“A tender will start next month, so it will not impact our stocks,” Magdalene said on Saturday.
She said in the meantime patients unable to obtain the drug could use pills containing similar ingredients and there was sufficient stock until December.
Should the upcoming tender fail to be met by April, the health ministry had secured an additional 560,000 bottles of the separate TLE pills from the fund, Magdalene said.
Some patients, however, are concerned about potentially changing their medication. “Clearly we are terrified,” HIV patient Baby Rivona Nasution, told the news conference hosted by the Indonesia AIDS Coalition. She has been using ARV medication for the past decade
“Will I still be alive or not by the end of the year?“
Wardhana of the Indonesia AIDS Coalition said the issue of obtaining the drugs distributed in the country by pharmaceutical companies Kimia Farma and Indofarma Global Medika may be due to high prices.
According to Magdalene, procurement regulations meant the ministry “could not access with such prices.” She did not elaborate.
Honesti Basyir, Kimia Farma president director, declined to comment on prices but said efforts must be made to reduce Indonesia’s reliance on costly imported raw materials for drugs.
Indofarma Global Medika could not be reached for comment.


South Europe summit calls for ‘fair’ migrant distribution

(From L) Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, French President Emmanuel Macron, Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pose for a family photo outside the Auberge de Castille in Valletta, after the first 'Southern EU Countries Summit' on June 14, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 11 min 55 sec ago
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South Europe summit calls for ‘fair’ migrant distribution

  • The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday that the vessel’s owners have since been providing those aboard with food and water

VALLETTA/MALTA, TUNIS: Southern European leaders called for a fair distribution of migrants arriving from across the Mediterranean as the latest NGO boat carrying rescued families was denied a safe port by Italy.
The leaders of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain said on Friday the EU should “guarantee effective implementation of the principle of solidarity and fair burden-sharing between member states.”
A joint declaration at the end of the summit in Valletta also said “efforts to break the smugglers’ business model need to be further enhanced, with the aim to also prevent tragic loss of life.”
A day earlier, dozens of migrants rescued in international waters off Tunisia are still stranded 15 days later as authorities refuse to allow the boat carrying them to access a nearby port, the UN said late Friday.
Egyptian tugboat Maridive 601 rescued 75 migrants off the southern Tunisian coast in late May after they embarked from Libya, a key launchpad for sub-Saharan Africans making dangerous bids to reach Europe by sea.
The vessel has been anchored since May 31 off the southern port of Zarzis, where authorities have refused to allow the vessel to dock despite an appeal by the boat’s captain.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday that the vessel’s owners have since been providing those aboard with food and water.
Tunisian officials contacted by AFP refused to comment on the situation, although an Interior Ministry official said last week, on condition of anonymity, that “the migrants want to be welcomed by a European country.”
Humanitarian groups say Tunisia, which has already received several hundred migrants since the start of the year, is reluctant to take on more new arrivals, demanding that they agree to be repatriated before being allowed to enter Tunisian territory.
The IOM said at least 32 unaccompanied minors were on the boat, and offered to help Tunisia host the migrants.

FASTFACT

Dozens of migrants rescued in international waters off Tunisia are still stranded 15 days later.

It added that 10 of those aboard the boat — nine Egyptians and a Moroccan — had expressed interested in returning home.
“We ask for the reinstatement of mechanisms to care for migrants rescued at sea” to prevent similar incidents in the future, said IOM’s Tunisia head Lorena Lando.
In 2018, Tunisian authorities prevented more than 11,400 irregular crossings of the Mediterranean, Interior Minister Hichem Fourati told parliament on Friday.
He said they had also arrested hundreds of people suspected of involvement in people-trafficking.
So far this year, Tunisian forces have intercepted some 428 clandestine migrants, he added.

The wording appeared to target the boats of non-governmental organizations that rescue migrants from the Mediterranean, but which are accused by far-right politicians such as Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of encouraging human trafficking.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the summit voiced “frustration” that the EU “talks about solidarity without applying it.”
The German-operated Sea Watch 3 NGO rescue vessel is currently off Italy’s southern Lampedusa island with 53 migrants on board who were rescued off the coast of Libya and since denied entry to Italian ports.
Salvini says that the rescue boats prevent the Libyan coast guard from picking up the migrants and returning them to Libya.
“All vessels operating in the Mediterranean must respect the applicable international laws and not obstruct operations of the Libyan Coast Guard,” the summit statement said.
Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister and leads the powerful right-wing League party in the coalition, has issued a decree ordering law enforcement authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent the entry into or transit through Italian waters of such ships.
Salvini has seen his popularity soar in the last year with a hard line against migrants which has included closing ports to rescue vessels.
Sea Watch International on Friday tweeted that its vessel was “still waiting for a port of safety 16 miles off Lampedusa,” calling for people to sign a petition for the migrants to be taken in by German cities.
Salvini said the vessel was now “wandering around the Mediterranean forcing women, men and children into unnecessary suffering.”
Italy and Malta, the closest countries to North Africa, said ahead of the summit that more should be done to stop migrants leaving, including by bolstering the training and resources of the Libyan coast guard.
Rome and Valletta insist on there being a fair distribution of migrants to other EU countries, while countries such as France say migrants should disembark at the closest port and then be voluntarily redistributed around Europe.
More than 12,000 people have died since 2014 trying to flee Libya to Europe by what the UN refugee agency calls the “world’s deadliest sea crossing.”
The seven nations meeting in Malta on Friday represent close to 40 percent of the EU’s population and gross domestic product and half of its coastline, Malta said.