On Thursday 15 November 2018, the Ministry of Health held a Seminar on Business & Human Rights in the Health Sector at the Siwabessy Auditorium of the Ministry of Health in Jl. HR Rasuna Said. FIHRRST founders Marzuki Darusman (speaker) and Makarim Wibisono (moderator) were among the more than 100 participants from non-governmental organizations, pharmacies, and hospitals, who also included Rafendi Djamin, Dr. Les Dina Liastuti (Director of RSCM), F. Tirto Koesnadi (General Chair of GP Pharmacy), and Ahyahudin Sodri (Executive Manager of ASPAKI).
The seminar was opened by the Secretary General of the Indonesian Ministry of Health, Oscar Primadi who forecast that upcoming 2019 would see a continuing increase in the market value of the Indonesian health industry such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices. This projection was based on Ministry of Health data as of December 31, 2017, revealing the development of the health industry in Indonesia over the 3 years from 2015 to 2017; In 2015, the health industry showed an 11.4% increase from 193 to 215 entities, while in 2016 the increase was 12.6%, from 215 to 242 entities.
Increase in the health industry market, however, must be balanced by the fulfilment of obligations, protection and respect for human rights, and as an expert in the field, Marzuki Darusman explained how expanding business can lead to human rights violations. As a surging industry, the health sector needs to be aware of the need to conduct business in a manner that will respect and protect human rights. This is essential as it will also help build a sustainable business, as more and more consumers are becoming aware of this issue and increasingly selective in their purchase of goods and services.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all persons, including workers, have the right to live healthy lives, access medical services, and obtain special support and services for their dependents. Thus, in addition to aspects of workers’ safety, it is also necessary to ensure the fulfilment of workers' health, including ensuring that workers and their families have access to health services, support reproductive rights, as well as affordability of food intake that meets nutritional requirements. Moreover, it should be noted that health service facilities always have a potential vulnerability to specific issues such as the containment of infectious diseases should universal precautions not be meticulously observed.
Marzuki Darusman also raised other examples of cases of human rights violations in the health sector, for it’s not only workers that can be at risk, but consumers too. In the 2016 counterfeit vaccine case, for example, at least 197 babies were identified as having been given fake vaccine injections. This counterfeit vaccine case violated several elements of human rights, including the right to prevention, control and examination of diseases, the right to health facilities, goods and services, mother's rights, children's rights, and the right to information. He also further explained about the Bill of Rights in the health sector and how it is vital that it be observed by the every player in the sector.
In closing the seminar, the Ministry of Health Expert on Health Economics, Mr. Mohamad Subuh remarked that such a comprehensive discussion on the issues in question within the human rights framework in the health business sector, was relatively new for the Ministry of Health. He thus expressed his gratitude to all the speakers who had conveyed such a depth of knowledge, as well as shared experiences and added insight during the seminar. He also hoped that the seminar will have a positive impact on the health industry, plus will spur an immediate follow-up, which may include the issuance of a regulation on the implementation of respect for human rights within the health industry.