Tech Tycoon Hands $82 Million To Tony Blair Institute To Create African Vaccination Database

The US technology billionaire Larry Ellison is bankrolling Tony Blair’s efforts to create a vaccination database in Africa.

According to The Times:

Over the past three years the founder of Oracle, one of the world’s largest software companies, has become one the former prime minister’s biggest donors.

Figures released by the foundation show that Ellison, 78, gave the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) $33 million in 2021, with plans for future donations of a further $49 million.

The money has been earmarked for a joint partnership to help African countries to create a central database of vaccination records to monitor and combat a variety of diseases, including yellow fever, polio and measles.

The plan is to widen this system out across healthcare in Africa — and build a digital database of patient records that will be free for at least ten years.

Blair, 70, has known Ellison since his time in Downing Street, when Oracle became a significant supplier of technology to the government. It still provides cloud computing services to the Cabinet Office.

Last year Oracle bought the US electronic health record company Cerner for almost $30 billion as part of Ellison’s vision to create a single source of medical records within America’s fragmented healthcare service.

“We’re building a system where all American citizens’ health records not only exist at the hospital level, but they also are in a unified national health records database,” he said at the time.

The initiative with TBI, announced in 2020, will help to develop a version of centralised healthcare records, starting with vaccinations.

“This is an immensely exciting and potentially ground-breaking initiative for recording information on all disease vaccinations and treatments in African nations,” Blair said at the time.

Though Africa has coped well with Covid-19, it still needs to be part of international efforts to control the disease, including for international travel.

“That means vaccination of at least a significant portion of the population, requiring the highest quality data system so that everyone’s vaccine experience is recorded.

Oracle can provide that system with data securely stored and owned by each country and is prepared to do so as part of a global philanthropic partnership.”

Alongside the Global Health Security Consortium, the two of them have also created a “tech for development” programme. The idea is to help developing countries build “comprehensive digital infrastructure”.

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