Mon, 20 Nov 2000

New vaccination injector launched

BANDUNG (JP): State-owned medicine and medical device producer PT. Bio Farma Indonesia has launched a new integrated injection and vaccine device called Uniject, which will be used in the national Hepatitis B vaccination program next year.

The device will help reduce the spread of disease due to unsterile needles as the injection and vaccine is set in one disposable package.

Bio Farma President Director Thamrin Poeloengan estimated that at least 30 percent of needles used in children's vaccination in developing countries are unsterile.

This has contributed in the spread of deadly diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus and the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Thamrin said production was funded by several international organizations, including the World Health Organization, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (Unicef), the United States Agency for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"Our production capacity right now is only around nine to 10 million devices," Thamrin said.

Three million devices, he said, would be handed to Unicef, four million would be used in Indonesia for the national vaccine program and the rest would be exported.

The only vaccine available using Uniject for 2001, he said, was Hepatitis B, but Tetanus Toxoid will be available in 2002.

The Hepatitis B unijects will be given to infants for free as part of the national vaccination program, which is also being supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program.

Hepatitis B is given the priority, Thamrin said, as prevalence of the disease in every region in the country ranges from 2 percent to 36 percent.(25/hdn)