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2008 Press Releases

Fact Sheet: The Truth About NAMRU-2

April 23, 2008

What is NAMRU-2?
Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2 (NAMRU-2) is a biomedical research laboratory that studies infectious diseases of mutual interest to the United States, the Indonesian Ministry of Health, and the international public health community. NAMRU-2 was established in Jakarta in 1970 upon the invitation of Indonesian Ministry of Health officials.

What is the scope of NAMRU-2’s work in Indonesia?
These shared research interests focus on malaria, viral diseases including dengue fever, enteric infections leading to diarrhea, and other emerging infectious diseases, including avian influenza. NAMRU-2 studies only relate to naturally-occurring tropical diseases.

Why is NAMRU-2 a military facility?
The United States military, and especially its Navy, has a long history of medical research. This began in 1853, when the U.S. Congress created the first Naval Medical Research facility in Brooklyn, New York. NAMRU-2 is part of that tradition, and one of five U.S. overseas tropical disease research laboratories. The others are located in Thailand, Egypt, Kenya and Peru. The U.S. Government does not profit from the operation of NAMRU-2, and in fact, much of its research focuses on research considered “unprofitable” by private medical research facilities.

Is NAMRU-2 a secret facility?
Is NAMRU-2 doing intelligence work? No. NAMRU-2’s facilities are always open to all visitors who share their interests, and welcomes scientists and physicians from Government of Indonesia laboratories, from the military, and from universities. It is an entirely transparent organization, and conducts only medical and scientific research, focusing on naturally-occurring tropical diseases.

Who works at NAMRU-2?
NAMRU-2 is staffed almost entirely by Indonesian scientists, doctors, veterinarians, technologists and administrative personnel. Out of approximately 175 staff members, only 19 are Americans. It is NAMRU-2’s Indonesian staff that makes it a success.

Who directs NAMRU-2’s activities in Indonesia?
All NAMRU-2 projects are approved by the National Institute of Health Research and Development (Badan LITBANGKES). NAMRU-2 conducts all its studies in partnership with our Indonesian colleagues, and never operates alone. NAMRU-2 is part of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. NAMRU-2 falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Embassy.

What has NAMRU-2 done for Indonesia?

  • They continuously provide essential training in fundamental laboratory techniques to hundreds of Indonesian health workers and researchers.
  • They have trained over 50 Indonesian scientists in the laboratory cultivation of malaria parasites and in sophisticated disease detection methods.
  • They train 30 Indonesian university students each year in virology and bacteriology techniques.
  • They demonstrated that primaquine prevents malaria, thereby making this common and affordable drug useful to Indonesians who travel to high-risk areas.
  • They led a $4 million effort against a malaria epidemic in Central Java; annual malaria cases decreased from 70,000 to fewer than 4,000.
  • They provided training, advanced testing, supplies and epidemiology support to the Ministry of Health to characterize recent dengue outbreaks in Palembang, Bandung, Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Medan.
  • Provides job for over 150 Indonesians.
  • They donated a fully furnished research laboratory in Jayapura, Papua, to LITBANGKES.