This article was originally published here
Int J Health Plann Manage. 2021 Oct 15. doi: 10.1002/hpm.3356. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Indonesia faces a continuous threat from communicable disease outbreaks. The current COVID-19 outbreak, the previous one of SARS, and many other infectious outbreaks encountered in the country warn of the need to develop comprehensive early warning systems to enable timely health responses in the long run. In this article, we argue that over the counter medication sales data at community pharmacies in Indonesia can potentially augment and increase the detection power of the current syndromic surveillance system, particularly in dealing with COVID-19 and other future infectious disease outbreaks in the country.
MAIN BODY: This article discusses the experience of other countries in employing pharmacy medication sales data to serve as potential syndromic surveillance platform and contribute to pandemic responses. We argue why it is worth considering utilising medication sales data from pharmacies in Indonesia to support the current surveillance system which enables the provision of early warnings of disease outbreaks. We then discuss the potential challenges of operationalising these data and suggest a way forward for the development and implementation of the syndromic surveillance system at community pharmacy settings in Indonesia.
CONCLUSION: While there are several challenges in developing a workable system in Indonesia that need to be addressed, introducing a syndromic surveillance system using pharmacy-setting medication sales data is worth investigating in the country.