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Turning garbage into healthcare

Gamal Albinsaid has been named as the winner of the inaugural Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards.

Turning garbage into healthcare
Turning garbage into healthcare

He was presented with the award by HRH Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace on 30 January.

Gamal, 24, will receive €50,000 in financial support and individually tailored mentoring to support his Garbage Clinical Insurance, which helps Indonesian communities turn household waste into healthcare.

The international awards programme, run in partnership with the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, is designed to inspire young people around the world to tackle environmental, social and health issues.

Here he shares how he came up with the idea for his initiative, and how he hopes to see it grow in the years ahead.

Tell us a little about your background...

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Brawijaya in Indonesia. I’m still studying there for a masters degree in Biomedicine. I am a doctor, researcher, technopreneur, and sociopreneur.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

Indonesia is classified by the World Bank as a lower-middle-income country. Some 85% of the population still remains without any medical health cover and recent estimates indicate that about 18% of people live on less than US$1 a day.

I started to wonder how we could create a health financing model which would allow people to get health access from their household resources. Our Garbage Clinical Insurance programme seems the perfect solution, because almost every day every home produces garbage which is not used, so anyone can join our scheme.

How does the business work?

Individuals are encouraged to collect their household waste and submit their refuse to one of five Garbage Clinical Insurance-accredited clinics. It’s then processed. Organic waste becomes fertiliser while inorganic waste is sold to collectors.

A month’s worth of refuse can reach close to 10,000 Indonesian rupiah (€0.60) which is used to cover a patient’s treatment and run healthcare programmes and clinical services for the community, providing families with access to doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, dentists and health volunteers.

You’ve identified a problem that you want to solve with your project. How does that problem make you feel?

I believe that health is a fundamental human right. However, in reality many people can not get access to healthcare because they do not have sufficient money and the cost for medication is expensive. I want to give people freedom from the fear, worry and pain of disease.

Why is this issue so important to you?

Indonesia has a huge problem regarding access to healthcare. Many people can’t get access to healthcare due to financial factors. My goal is not only to create a breakthrough programme, but also to make it more effective and efficient.

How do you believe your idea could make a difference?

Garbage Clinical Insurance increases the value of garbage exponentially. We’re empowering every individual to mobilise overlooked resources and take an active role in managing health financing. We’re changing the perception and habits of people in the community too.

How will the mentoring and financial support you’re receiving help your business?

We’re aiming to replicate the success of Garbage Clinical Insurance in other regions, and scale the programme up considerably.

What would you like to have achieved in the next five years?

Our team is focusing on developing and duplicating Garbage Clinical Insurance by creating new programmes in further regions. We also want to ensure the sustainability and independence of our ventures. In developing this product, we have applied scientific and research aspects in order to make sure our referral programme can act as a role model of a reliable, innovative micro-insurance initiative.

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