Jakarta. Microsoft founder Bill Gates will visit Jakarta on April 5 to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Indonesian government to launch the Indonesia Health Fund, a five-year charitable pool to which philanthropists can contribute in order to expand healthcare access to some of the country’s poorest people.
“The government is appreciative and grateful,” Coordinating Minister of People’s Welfare Agung Laksono said on Wednesday. “This is an initiative deserving of praise and it is expected to help the government’s efforts in tackling health problems faced by the Indonesian people.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic effort for which the former Microsoft chief executive now works full time, announced in October last year that it would match a $75 million funding commitment from the Tahir Foundation, an organization backed by the Mayapada Group, and Indonesian conglomerate. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria received $65 million, and an additional $10 million was allocated toward providing women with access to family planning, a press release said. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it would match both sums.
The two foundations began a joint venture in April, 2013, with a $200 million partnership that marked the first public-private partnership for the Gates Foundation. Among its aims was the commitment to end polio by 2018.
The new IHF will focus on tackling four communicable diseases — dengue fever, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis — and expanding Indonesia’s family-planning provisions.
Agung said Gates would visit community healthcare centers (Puskesmas) and meet with Indonesian philanthropists on April 5, while Tahir Foundation chairman Dato Sri Tahir said Gates would also meet with Indonesian media to discuss the aims of the program.
Tahir said eight businesspeople would also sign the memorandum on April 5 to confirm donations they were making to the IHF. He declined to name the eight.
“Through the IHF, we will gather strength from [private donors] as a contribution to addressing healthcare issues in Indonesia,” Tahir said, adding that the fund was earmarked to last five years.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said around 50 percent of Indonesians lived in areas where malaria was classified as endemic. The mosquito-borne disease infects millions of people every year and is responsible for around 30,000 annual deaths.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the United States, with an asset trust endowment of $40.2 billion. It has won international renown for efforts to eradicate disease and mitigate poverty. The Jakarta Globe