Controversial former health minister Terawan Agus Putranto has elected not to further stir the pot after he was forever barred from medical practice.
On Friday, the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) decided to permanently terminate Terawan’s membership, thus revoking his medical practice license. IDI ruled that Terawan had committed serious ethical misconduct, particularly over his development and promotion of a controversial homegrown COVID-19 vaccine named Nusantara.
In a written statement published today — the first since his IDI dismissal — Terawan said he was proud of having had the opportunity to serve the association.
“My friends, and others, please refrain from causing public unrest [over my dismissal]. We are still facing the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have to show respect to our colleagues and the public in clinics and hospitals,” Terawan said.
Terawan, a military doctor, shot to infamy when he was banned from practice by IDI between 2018 and 2019 for serious ethical misconduct by promoting an untested “cure” for stroke, for which he counted some political elites as his patients. Despite warnings from medical experts, President Joko Widodo appointed him as the nation’s health minister in late 2019.
Terawan has received a great share of the blame for Indonesia’s poor initial response to COVID-19. Before Indonesia reported its first cases, he infamously said that it was prayers, not masks, that was keeping the country safe from the coronavirus.
But Terawan’s dismissal from IDI centers on the Nusantara vaccine. Terawan began spearheading development of Nusantara when he was health minister, and he continued to promote the vaccine after he was removed from the cabinet. The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) refused to grant approval for the controversial vaccine, which it said had skipped numerous essential clinical trial protocols.
The COVID-19 Task Force also scrutinized claims that the vaccine was homegrown, saying that there is evidence that it was developed in the US. This means Terawan likely acted as a bridge to have the vaccine trialed and distributed in Indonesia.