UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Kanni Wignaraja (second from left) and UNDP Indonesia Resident Representative, Norimasa Shimomura (third from right) with representatives of Provincial Health Office of East Nusa Tenggara, District Health Office of West Manggarai and Community Health Center of Labuan Bajo during a visit in October.
Photo: UNDP Indonesia

Labuan Bajo – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Kanni Wignaraja commended Indonesian health workers for being frontliners during the COVID-19 pandemic and for implementing the Electronic Immunization and Logistics Monitoring System (SMILE) to ensure vaccine stock and quality.

Developed by UNDP and the Ministry of Health in 2018, SMILE is a digital application that monitors and reports vaccine logistics as well as checks vaccine storage temperatures remotely. Approximately 428 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed through 12,000 health facilities using SMILE throughout Indonesia.

Ms. Wignaraja made the comment during her visit in October to a community health center  in Labuan Bajo city, which has installed a remote temperature logger for vaccine viability, with support from  Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. She was accompanied by UNDP Indonesia Resident Representative, Mr. Norimasa Shimomura and representatives from the Indonesian Ministry of Health (MoH).

“The urgency of COVID-19 emergency response requires quick decisions, accurate and real-time data. The digitalization of vaccine logistics through the SMILE system has helped to do this. SMILE was developed from a similar system in India that managed to record the distribution of two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including to the groups of people who were previously difficult to reach,” Ms. Wignaraja said.

“Seeing the rapid progress of SMILE which has successfully distributed more than 428 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine is indeed something to proud of. I really appreciate the efforts and collaboration with the Indonesian government, especially for the upcoming plan in using SMILE not only for vaccines. I hope it will go a long way to strengthen the health sector," she added.

A picturesque port on the island of Flores, Labuan Bajo is one of Indonesia's tourist hotspots, a 2.5-hour flight from the capital Jakarta. Known for the Komodo National Park, pink beaches, crystal clear waters and some of the best diving sites, Labuan Bajo attracted 12,041 foreign visitors as of August 2022, following months of lockdown.

Staff of Labuan Bajo Community Health Center explain the vaccine storage and monitoring system to Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Kanni Wignaraja during her visit.
Photo: UNDP Indonesia

Labuan Bajo is part of West Manggarai district in East Nusa Tenggara province, which implemented the COVID-19 vaccination well, including accurate reporting of data to the national government with support of the SMILE system. To increase health staff’s capacity on digitally monitoring vaccine supply chains, SMILE trained staff at the district’s health office, police clinics and 22 local community health centers. 82 percent of them were women.

According to Head of the West Manggarai District Health Office, Mr. Paulus Mami, around 93.98 percent of the district’s total population had received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 71.92 percent the second dose. 25 percent received a booster as of October 2022. The district is currently working on providing boosters including for foreign tourists visiting Labuan Bajo.

“Thanks to the support of the SMILE system, we are more confident because we can digitally manage and report vaccine logistics. It also enables us to store the vaccines supply at the right temperature, maintaining its viability and security. In addition to providing vaccinations for the local community, we are also ready to support the national government to deliver quality COVID-19 vaccination services for all visiting foreign tourists. This effort is crucial considering Labuan Bajo is set as one of Indonesia’s super-priority tourist destinations,” Mr. Paulus said.

Representing the Directorate of Pharmaceutical Management and Services at the Ministry of Health, Ms. Sri Endah Suhartatik also acknowledged SMILE’s progress and emphasized the importance of increasing access to quality vaccines in international tourist destination like Labuan Bajo.

“Congratulations to Labuan Bajo as one of the five super-priority tourist destinations in Indonesia, for providing quality vaccination services with SMILE’s support. I hope Labuan Bajo will be an example for other tourist destinations and they, too, will provide vaccines for everyone, including foreign visitors. It will support recovery of the national economy,” she said.

To learn more about SMILE, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-n3Yd_rAd8

This article was originally published on the UNDP Indonesia website