The Ministry of Health in Indonesia, known as Kemenkes, through its Directorate General of Disease Prevention and Control, has issued Circular Letter number HK.02.02/C/3628/2023 regarding the Mitigation of Health Impacts Arising from Air Pollution. This directive is addressed to several key entities, including provincial and district/city health offices, hospital directors, Port Health Offices, B/BTKLPP (Laboratory and Scientific Research and Development Center for Health), and community health centers.
According to Kemenkes’ statement on Thursday, August 31, 2023, this Circular Letter underscores the importance of involving local communities actively in efforts aimed at addressing respiratory disorders and diseases resulting from air pollution. It underscores that air pollution is a complex issue that doesn’t adhere to temporal, geographical, or generational boundaries.
Consequently, addressing air pollution necessitates a coordinated approach involving stakeholders at multiple levels, including central and regional governments, private sector entities, and the general public. The circular delineates several strategies and measures to achieve this goal:
- Public Education: Kemenkes advocates for public awareness campaigns delivered through various media channels to elucidate the health impacts of air pollution. These include both short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) health effects. Acute effects encompass conditions such as mucosal irritation, respiratory tract irritation, heightened incidence of acute respiratory infections, increased asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbations, elevated risks of heart attacks, and the potential for toxic gas exposure.
- Early Warning Systems: The circular encourages heightened public vigilance by promptly responding to early warnings derived from real-time air quality monitoring conducted by authorized entities.
- Regional Initiatives: It calls upon regional governments to implement strategies for enhancing air quality and managing its health impacts. These measures encompass the adoption of the 6M + 1S health protocol, the establishment of an early warning system for elevated air pollution levels, the strengthening of surveillance efforts, early identification and intervention, health risk assessments, and the comprehensive management of cases in healthcare facilities (fasyankes).
- Healthcare Facilities: The directive underscores the importance of preparing both primary-level and advanced healthcare facilities. It also emphasizes collaboration with other pertinent stakeholders to effectively address public health complaints and disorders stemming from air pollution.
- Community Engagement: There is a strong call for greater community participation in mitigating the health repercussions of air pollution. This particularly applies to vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, individuals with comorbidities, and the elderly. Implementing the 6M + 1S health protocol is recommended.
- Mask Availability: The circular stresses the need to ensure the widespread availability of masks, especially those capable of effectively filtering air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
- Monitoring and Reporting: Finally, it highlights the importance of ongoing air quality monitoring and the prevention and control of any increased health cases attributed to air pollution. This data should be reported to the Director General of Disease Prevention and Control through the Early Warning and Response System (SKDR). The reporting process can be facilitated through a designated website or contact information.
In sum, this Circular Letter from Indonesia’s Ministry of Health, Kemenkes, underscores the multifaceted nature of addressing air pollution and its health consequences. It emphasizes the need for a collaborative and multifaceted approach that involves various stakeholders, education, early warnings, regional initiatives, well-prepared healthcare facilities, community engagement, mask availability, and robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms.