JAKARTA, INDONESIA /SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 16 July 2021
- Tanoto Foundation, an independent philanthropy organization established
by Sukanto Tanoto and Tinah Bingei Tanoto in 1981, has launched its inaugural
'Unlocking Potential: Conversations with Tanoto Foundation' podcast series.
The first episode, titled 'Beyond the Pandemic' and
available on Spotify
and YouTube, features
Tanoto Foundation Trustee Belinda Tanoto and infectious diseases expert
Professor Tikki Pangestu.
Belinda Tanoto, also a Managing Director at the global
resource manufacturing Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) group of companies, has been
actively involved in a number of Tanoto Foundation programs in human capital
development such as stunting mitigation, poverty alleviation, early childhood
education and development, maternal health and leadership development.
In addition to its other long-term focus on improving
people's health span through its medical philanthropy, the Tanoto Foundation
has since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic collaborated with like-minded
partners to provide urgent support to governments and communities in the form
of personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, sanitizer and disinfectants,
food staple packages, and more recently in Indonesia, oxygen concentrators and
largely centered on Asia's ability to exit the pandemic, as well as
opportunities to accelerate Asian nations' recovery. Professor Pangestu, a
Visiting Professor at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University
of Singapore, shared broadly on the importance of vaccination, testing,
treatment and social responsibility. The former Director of Research Policy and
Cooperation at the World Health Organization added that nations have to be
prepared to live with the virus as endemic as they exit the pandemic.
Professor Pangestu continually emphasized vaccination as
critical consideration for any community to overcome the virus and reduce
mortality and hospitalization rates. He cited matter-of-factly Israel, the UK, Singapore
and China as countries who have continued demonstrating effective governance
and management of the virus amidst the emergence of more infectious variants.
However, he expressed concern over three challenges many developing
countries face in supply, logistics and vaccine hesitancy. He suggested that
good governance and improving scientific literacy can help a nation achieve
herd immunity, which comprises 80-90 percent of the population being fully
Israel and the United Kingdom (UK) serve as two examples of
how vaccines reduce not only the spread of the infection but also mortality
rates. With about 60% coverage, people in Israel are 30 times less likely to be
infected and ten times less likely to be hospitalised. While the UK, which has
30-40% coverage, deals with the more infectious Delta variant, there is a
significantly lower mortality rate.
Governments alone cannot battle the virus. Both Ms. Tanoto
and Professor Pangestu agreed this was where public-private partnerships could
help boost efforts in vaccination campaigns and public health communications.
Professor Pangestu acknowledged that while private organizations played
important parts in financing purchase of vaccines, oxygen and personal
protective equipment, they could bolster efforts in public health
communication, advocacy and education to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
Broader collaboration will reduce vaccine inequity, expand
vaccine access and hasten the pace at which vaccines are administered. The
podcast touched briefly on Indonesia's 'gotong royong' mass vaccination
campaign, a public-private collaboration aimed at sharply increasing the number
of vaccines administered to people across the world's fourth most populous
country. Professor Pangestu added that private healthcare institutions such as
private hospitals and clinics, along with pharmaceutical companies were vital
in the distribution and delivery of vaccines to the population.
The Singapore-based researcher said that individuals could
play a vital role, citing how celebrities, influencers, community and religious
leaders have helped to amplify the vaccination campaign, public health
advisories and good hygiene practices.
The conversation moved to the role philanthropies and
non-profits could play to not only contribute to herd immunity but also
safeguarding public health. Professor Pangestu said that philanthropies have
continued to also support medical research, contributing to the growing body of
knowledge that will spur the discovery of effective solutions in vaccinations
In 2017, Tanoto Foundation contributed a transformational
gift to the SingHealth Duke-NUS Medical Centre to establish the Viral Research
and Experimental Medicine Centre @SingHealth Duke-NUS (ViREMiCS). This was in
addition to establishment of Tanoto Foundation Professorships in diabetes
research, cardiovascular medicine and medical oncology respectively in 2013,
2014 and 2016. In addition to supporting human capital development programs and
the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs),
the Foundation has also contributed broadly to medical philanthropy as it seeks
to meaningfully contribute to research in Asia-prevalent diseases and to the
improvement of health span of populations globally.
Catch 'Beyond the Pandemic' on: