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The Zuckerberg Chan Initiative Could Make a Big Impact on Healthcare

Zuckerberg Chan Initiative

Many big names in business have put big bucks into philanthropic pursuits. Bill Gates has his own foundation with billions invested in a large number of ventures including combating measles in Africa. As of December 2014, some $43 billion dollars has been invested in its efforts. Gates, however, isn’t the only one making pledges to better our world, and after recent developments he doesn’t hold the title for the largest financial pledge to philanthropy either. After the birth of their new daughter Max, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, and his wife Priscilla Chan, a celebrated paediatrician, have pledged to give a whopping 99% of their Facebook shares to the Zuckerberg Chan Initiative, a foundation they created.

The Initiative has several aims including the funding of various non-profit organisations as well as participating in policy debates and making private contributions and investments where they are most needed. Overall, the Initiative seeks to make a positive impact in many areas of great need. One of the many facets of the Initiative’s focus will be on bringing healthcare to areas that currently lack it and helping people to avoid disease. They also seek to make a positive impact on advancing education and alleviating poverty. The Initiative’s funding is set up so that Zuckerberg and Chan will make three contributions each year from their Facebook shares totalling no more than $1 billion. This is set to continue every year for the rest of Zuckerberg’s life.

This fits in well with their previous contributions to health and medicine. They donated $25 million to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention back when the Ebola epidemic was still ongoing. That donation was made for the specific aim of controlling the epidemic and ensuring that it did not give way to an even greater health crisis. Also, in February, the couple donated $75 million dollars to the San Francisco General Hospital which now bears their names. Chan is a paediatric resident at that hospital and was inspired to make the donation due to the tireless efforts of her colleagues there and the profound difference they make to each of their patients.
Zuckerberg and Chan also made a donation of $5 million to a local clinic in their area called the Ravenswood Family Health Center. The clinic serves low-income families in the peninsular area including the community of East Palo Alto which the Facebook headquarters calls home. The clinic had long since outgrown the facilities it had at the time. Now, the donation will help them to increase their patients per year from an average of 11,000 to double that amount. They also plan to add in a pharmacy and other additional services such as mammography, optometry, and podiatry.

The Zuckerberg Chan Initiative is just the next in a line of philanthropic donations and contributions that the couple has made over the years. Granted, the pledge of 99% of their Facebook shares  is quite the bold move, but the impact it will have is sure to be both long-lasting and far-reaching which is something that the world could really use right now. It remains to be seen whether they’ll make good on their big, bold promise, but considering their history it’s a pretty safe bet that they will do just that.

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