The Jakarta Post
World philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates signed a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU ) with eight Indonesian tycoons in Jakarta on Saturday on a special sustainable healthcare program.
At the ceremony, Gates handed over US$40 million to the Indonesia Health Fund. The program is part of the joint philanthropic efforts of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Tahir Foundation.
Last year, both Gates and Tahir, who is also chairman and CEO of the Mayapada Group, donated a total of $207 million, with each of them providing $103.5 million.
Gates said he focused his charitable work on health-related causes because despite scientific advancements, many children around the world continued to fall ill and die from various diseases.
'I grew up in a country where health is taken for granted, but I've found that 5 percent of children in the world die under the age of five. It turns out that a lot of medicine and vaccines are only available in rich countries,' he said.
Gates added that his wife, Melinda, asked for family planning to be included in the program because she wanted women to have choices and access to contraception.
The eight other participating tycoons were Adrian Bramantyo Musyanif of Samali Hotels and Resorts; Hendro Gondokusumo, president director and CEO of PT Intiland Development; Ted Sioeng, chairman of the Sioeng Group; Edward Suryadjaya, principal of Ortus Holdings Ltd.; Benny Tjokrosaputro, founder of PT Hanson International; Anne Patricia Sutanto, president director of PT Pancaprima Ekabrothers; Henry Jaya Gunawan, president director of PT Gala Bumi Perkasa; and Luntungan Honoris, president commissioner of PT Modernland Realty.
Each of them has committed to providing $5 million for the next five years.
Ted said he was glad to be involved in the program. 'What Tahir did was great because he reminded me that all of us want to improve the lives of Indonesians,' he said.
Anne said she wanted to give something back to Indonesia after dedicating her life to business. 'Health is one of the main issues in this country that needs to be taken care of, so I think this is a good way to start contributing more.'
Total donations for the Indonesia Health Fund and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will reach $300 million in the next five years.
The Global Fund, currently chaired by Indonesian Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi, was established in 2002 by prominent global figures such as former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and former UK prime minister Tony Blair.
Nafsiah said Gates and Tahir got involved to help cure diseases more effectively.
During the ceremony, Tahir said he chose to get involved and asked many other tycoons to join the program because he wanted to bring good things to Indonesia.
The program will leverage the Gates Foundation's and the Tahir Foundation's existing grants to four partners and programs, namely The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Tuberculosis Alliance Drug Trial, Global Polio Eradication Initiative and Family Planning and Reproductive Health, across the world, especially in Indonesia.
Coordinating People's Welfare Minister Agung Laksono, who witnessed the MoU signing, said 75 percent of the funds would go to healthcare treatment and services for malaria, tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, dengue fever and family planning in Indonesia. ( gda )