Indonesian tycoon pledges $100m to Gates Foundation

The founder of Indonesia’s Mayapada Group pledged $100m to improve access to family planning services 

The founder of Indonesia’s Mayapada Group on Wednesday pledged $100m in a joint push with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle disease and improve access to family planning services in Indonesia.

The donation by Tahir, who goes by one name, will be matched by the foundation to raise $200 in funding. Much of the money will be used to fight tuberculosis, HIV and malaria in Indonesia, and to expand access to contraceptives.

“This sets a phenomenal example of philanthropy both for Indonesia and in the region,” Bill Gates told reporters in Abu Dhabi. “Indonesia has done a good job in improving its health statistics, but there is still more that can be done.”

Mr Tahir said that $150m will be used to fund healthcare initiatives in Indonesia, while the remaining money will support global polio eradication efforts.

“We have a lot to learn from the Gates Foundation, and we hope this will be the start of other [philanthropists] participating more,” he said. “We can work together for the region, and in a bigger capacity for the nation.”

The pledge was unveiled on the sidelines of the Global Vaccine Summit in the UAE capital. The two-day event will bring together more than 300 global leaders, health experts and business chiefs, to discuss how best to deliver vaccines to the world’s poorest children.

The summit will focus in part on the global campaign to eradicate polio, the paralyzing viral infection. Extensive vaccination drives have reduced the number of countries with outbreaks of polio to three: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Billionaire philanthropist Gates is expected to tell the summit that the disease could be eradicated in five years if sufficient funding is given to immunisation campaigns. While the virus remains, the risk of it re-infecting polio-free countries remains high.

“Polio hasn’t been in Indonesia for quite some time, but as long as it’s in any other country, it can come back,” said Gates. “If we can eradicate the disease, then… all those resources and time can be put into other health activities.”