Impact Journalism Day
From Waste to Health Insurance (and a Meeting with Prince Charles)
Gamal Albinsaid, 24, a young graduate of Brawijaya University's School of Medicine in Malang, East Java, could not believe his luck. The movement he started in his native Indonesia -enabling people without health insurance to access medical services in exchange for collecting trash for recycling – brought him on a journey to London, where he earned the prestigious HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur award, handed to him in person by Prince Charles.
"I wish to warmly congratulate Gamal Albinsaid for his amazing initiative," Prince Charles said at the award ceremony. The Crown Prince said that Gamal's initiative in implementing a waste insurance scheme – which he developed with colleagues at Brawijaya University's School of Medicine- could tackle two issues at the same time, namely waste management and the provision of health, especially for the poor.
The idea to establish a waste insurance scheme stemmed from Gamal's concern that the three-year-old child of a trash scavenger had died from untreated diarrhea. The parents, who made a paltry Rp 10,000 a day (0.65 euros; 0.73 USD), could not afford to bring the child to a clinic, let alone a hospital, for fear of the expensive costs.
Gamal, who, back in 2009, was still a student, was moved to do something about it. Along with several friends, he started establishing health services at the Mawar Husada clinic in front of their college on Jl. Veteran, Malang. As a means of payment, patients only needed to bring garbage for recycling.
The waste insurance clients, which now include 500 families, must simply hand over non-organic household waste, such as plastic bottles, cardboard boxes and paper once a month.
At the clinic, the waste is weighed, priced and used as a sort of insurance premium. The premium started at Rp 1,000 (0.73 USD; 0.65 euros) and is now set at Rp 10,000 (0.73 USD; 0.65 euros) per month. It is this premium that serves as a savings account to pay for healthcare costs at the clinic.
Gamal purposefully chose waste as every household produces it. "We wish to mobilize this resource, which the people throw away," he said.
The system is going well in Malang. Local residents around the clinic have enthusiastically greeted the waste insurance scheme and are now starting to see the health benefits.
Some of the regions that will serve as locations for Gamal's waste insurance clinics include Denpasar, Medan, Manado and Blitar.
Gamal is currently interning at the Saiful Anwar Hospital in Malang. Nevertheless, since 2013, he has served as CEO of Indonesia Medika, an innovative healthcare company with members from many universities across Indonesia.
He successfully beat 511 other social entrepreneurs from 90 countries to obtain the Unilever Sustainable Living Award, which has Prince Charles as patron. He made it to a list of seven finalists before being presented with the prize at Buckingham Palace in London in January 2014.
The international award program is designed to inspire youth from all over the globe to resolve environmental, social and health issues, inviting entrepreneurs under 30 years of age to provide inspirational, practical and clear solutions to help create sustainable living.
Gamal's mission continues. "There are many Indonesians who do not have health insurance yet," he said.
"In the future, I want to replicate the waste insurance system to several other regions, nation-wide and then abroad, in order to find a cheap and easy waste insurance system that does not burden the people."