Turning Trash Into Medicine
    Category: Philanthropy By : Sharyn Purwanto Read : 1686 Date : Sunday, May 04, 2014 - 17:37:58

    Toto Santiko Budi for Forbes Indonesia

    Gamal Albinsaid started Garbage Clinical Insurance (GCI) in March 2010 in Malang to solve two pressing problems: reducing trash and providing better healthcare to low-income communities. How does it work? Local residents can sell trash to GCI in exchange for healthcare services. To participate in the program, residents must first become a member, and after that bring in enough garbage to pay a minimum of $1 a month. GCI uses the donated garbage in two ways: organic waste is processed into commercial fertilizer while non-organic waste is recycled. Both are sold, raising funds to pay for the clinics’ services.

    Despite the low premium cost, Gamal is confident that GCI will be financially sustainable. Of the funds raised, about half goes to treating patients and the rest is spent on preventive care and education. Most of the staff work as volunteers, a total of 88 volunteers, plus 15 doctors and 12 nurses.

    “Some 18% of Indonesia’s population lives on less than $1 a day with approximately half living on less than $2 a day. Households spend on average 2% of their income on healthcare, ranging from 1.6% in the lower-income groups to about 3.5% in the higher-income brackets,” explains Gamal.

    Since he started in 2010, Gamal has added four more clinics, which were existing clinics that GCI has accredited. The clinics are in Bandung, Bekasi, Malang and Medan with a total of 500 members. GCI estimates that it has helped more than 2,000 people since it started.

    Gamal’s inspiration came from the tragic story of Khaerunissa, the three-year-old daughter of a garbage collector who died in 2005 from chronic diarrhea because her father could not afford the medicine to treat her. “There should not be any more Khaerunissas in Indonesia today,” says Gamal.

    For his efforts, Gamal in January was awarded a special prize from the multinational Unilever, the first-ever HRH the Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur award, selected from over 500 applicants from around the world. For this prize, he flew to England to personally receive it from Prince Charles and Unilever CEO Paul Polman at a gala event held at Buckingham Palace.