May 5, 2020 / 1:54 AM / 25 days ago

Indonesia calls for 'equal access' to coronavirus medicine for developing countries

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo takes a look at the emergency hospital handling of COVID-19 in Kemayoran Athletes Village, to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Jakarta, Indonesia March 23, 2020 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Hafidz Mubarak A/ via REUTERS

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo called on Monday for “equal access” for developing countries to medicine to treat the new coronavirus, as global cases pass three million.

“We need to fight for just and timely access to affordable COVID-19 medicine and vaccine,” Widodo said in a statement.

“Debt relief and debt repayment obligations from official creditors (for developing countries) need be rediverted into financing the handling of COVID-19.”

The Indonesian president attended a virtual summit on COVID-19 held by 39 heads of states that are part of the “Non-Aligned Movement” (NAM), a Cold War era bloc that was established in 1961 and declared itself non-partisan to any major powers.

Indonesia Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a video conference on Tuesday at midnight that the NAM countries would form a task force to compile crucial “medical and humanitarian” needs for member states, that would then be conveyed to donor countries and organizations.

The COVID-19 illness, caused by the new coronavirus, has killed 864 people and infected 11,587 in Indonesia.

World leaders promised US$8 billion on Monday for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, according to an announcement by European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.

Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Fanny Potkin; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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