Bill Gates to donate to Indonesian health care

INDONESIA - World philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates will collaborate with the Tahir Foundation and other Indonesian conglomerates on a special sustainable healthcare programme, a senior minister said Wednesday.

"The government appreciates the initiative and believes that the Gates and Tahir foundations will run it transparently and with accountability," Coordinating People's Welfare Minister Agung Laksono told a press conference.

Agung said the collaboration would establish the Indonesian Health Fund, which was a charity pool that business people and philanthropists across the country could donate to.

The minister revealed that Gates was scheduled to visit Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 5, to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the programme with Dato Sri Tahir, founder of the Tahir Foundation, and eight other conglomerates.

During his stay in Jakarta, Gates will also visit public health centers (Pukesmas) and meet business people, government officials and media leaders.

According to Agung, Gates and Tahir had a successful collaboration last year; a joint-donation effort called the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which raised US$207 millionĀ (S$261.6 million). Both foundations donated $103.5 million.

"Around 75 per cent of the donation joint-effort is currently being used to treat malaria, tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS and family planning in Indonesia," he said.

Agung added that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria had been established by prominent UN figures including Kofi Annan.

According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 50 per cent of the Indonesian population lives in malaria-endemic areas. The same data also shows that out of an annual 30 million malaria cases 30,000 died every year across the country.

Tahir, who is also a chairman and CEO of the Mayapada Group, said that he could not disclose the names of the eight Indonesian conglomerates, but did confirm that they were committed to the programme.

"The business people agreed to donate a total of $80 million to this programme," he said.

He said that the initiative would promote philanthropy, especially for health care, like in European countries and the US.

Tahir cited Warren Buffet, the richest man in the US, who had donated 90 per cent of his wealth to the Gates Foundation.

According to Tahir, Indonesia would be the first nation in Asia to have successful philanthropic collaboration.