Editor's Note: This post is a guest blog, contributed by Rachel Ann Kenyon. Rachel is a 20 year old, who most recently helped out with the GCNS Youth Forum. Rachel is currently a second year student at Singapore University of Social Sciences.
On a breezy Monday morning, a small team of Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) volunteers had took a 40-minute flight to the Indonesian island of Riau to visit Pangkalan Kerinci to learn more about the sustainability efforts of APRIL and how companies could help to build and empower the local community. Fresh out of the recent GCNS Youth Forum that had professionals in the field of corporate sustainability sharing how youths could be empowered to effect a change within their companies, some of the participants were presented the prized opportunity to visit one of the leading firms in sustainable operations.
Diabetes is often talked about as a silent killer -- surreptitious, debilitating and sometimes fatal. Furthermore while many suffer from the disease, not everyone suffers in the same way. For some, they are resigned to a lifetime of medicine and insulin injections -- along with high medical bills and a lowered quality of life -- others, meanwhile, suffer from painful complications from the disease. These can include kidney failure, blindness, or even amputation. Diabetes has a high preponderance among Asian populations, but one man is leading the fight against it, with the help of Tanoto Foundation Founder Sukanto Tanoto.
Diabetes: The Insidious Disease
Professor Karl Tryggvason is currently the Tanoto Foundation Professor of Diabetes Research at Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore’s only U.S. styled graduate medical school. The Professorship, established through a gift provided by Tanoto Foundation in 2013, aids Prof. Tryggvason’s work in understanding what has become a pressing issue for the region. As Prof. Tryggvason laments, “Diabetes is increasing everywhere. It is, unfortunately, worse in Asia.”
It is a sentiment echoed by Belinda Tanoto, member of Tanoto Foundation’s Board of Trustees, “Today, 60% of the world’s diabetic population is Asian. Of the undiagnosed cases in Asia Pacific, the figure is higher than the global average of 46%. This is a situation that we want to change.”
The Icelander first started out as a student of architecture, but found his calling in medicine. Needless to say, architecture’s loss was medicine’s gain. Today, his research on diabetes provides serious ammunition for fighting a disease that half of all patients in South East Asia suffer complications from. Specifically, Prof. Tryggvason’s work heavily focuses on discovering more effective cures for diabetes. Through stem cell research, his team has been attempting to cultivate insulin cells that could just prove the key to curing type-II diabetes.
Knowledge not just for Knowledge's Sake
His work is set to benefit patients worldwide, many of whom currently depend upon more conventional, and unpleasant, forms of treatment. “A major therapy for diabetes is injecting insulin into the body. It is not very nice, to have this therapy for your whole life,” said Prof. Tryggvason.
A separate, and equally important, aspect of Prof. Tryggvason's research delves into the genetics of diabetes; his team is currently looking for a genetic basis that might predispose certain patients to complications. By extension, Prof. Tryggvason's team is also looking for protective genes – genes that protect one from such complications. Furthermore Singapore’s racial diversity and clearly defined ethnic groups, according to Prof. Tryggvason, makes it the perfect destination for the study of genetic causes for diabetes.
Undoubtedly, these are heady days for those fighting the good fight against diabetes. Backed by Tanoto Foundation’s willingness to create a positive impact for society, Prof. Tryggvason remains all the more grateful for Sukanto Tanoto and the Foundation's belief in his work.
As Prof. Karl suggests, “With money coming from Tanoto Foundation, things are more flexible. And it is important to have a certain amount of such money, because in research, we are looking for answers to the unknown, and we cannot always know beforehand, how exactly we are going to do it.”
Sulaiman is a man with both his feet firmly planted on the ground. Every day, he surveys the operations of his coco peat company, which supplies 200 tonnes of the ecologically friendly, bio-degradable and recyclable material derived from the husk of the coconut per month to APRIL's operations in Riau.
Sulaiman's company, Rifky Pratama Sanjaya, today employs 40 staff, spread across Pangkalan Kerinci and Lampung Province, and is an integral part of APRIL's supply chain. Sulaiman's success story as an entrepreneur is one of many supported by the numerous opportunities created by the Indonesian pulp and paper industry, which collectively contributes 6.7 percent of the country's national manufacturing industry gross domestic product (GDP) and US$ 3.9 billion (non-oil export) to the country's exports.
Medicine is a vessel of hope that improves the lives of millions around the world. Yet, ironically, there exists in medical research a "valley of death" i.e., a lag between the lab bench and the commercialisation of a drug. Exacerbating the lag is often a lack of funding integral for the taking of newly-discovered drugs to the marketplace. One expert keen to avoid this pitfall, is Professor Stuart Cook.
APRIL is renown amongst customers and suppliers as one of the world’s leading pulp and paper players—one that leverages on technology and innovation to continually improve its operations. What most consumers rarely see, however, is the process by which trees are cultivated from seedlings to paper, the entire spectrum of community development programmes that APRIL provides to its workforce, their families, and the villages surrounding its operations. On a bright and breezy June morning, a group of volunteers and youths from the Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) and Yale-NUS got to see just that and more, when they visited Pangkalan Kerinci, the heart of APRIL’s operations in Riau, Indonesia.
In this issue of Inside RGE, we feature the talented RGE employees who have so aptly captured the 4Cs--Good for Community, Good for Country, Good for Climate, Good for Company--in a 2016 photo contest that saw some 500 entries from RGE's global workforce around the world. The winning submissions are proudly featured in the 2017 RGE desktop calendar.
RGE Founder and Chairman Sukanto Tanoto was recently invited by international broadcaster CNBC to share his journey as an entrepreneur in the second season of Lasting Legacy, a programme that explores the secrets behind the success of the world’s leading family businesses and business families.
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