Ensuring Safer, Longer, Healthier Lives


Public Health

The Public Health program combats noncommunicable diseases and injuries by spreading solutions that are proven to save lives. By following the data and forming partnerships with both national and local governments and organizations around the world, Bloomberg Philanthropies works to reduce preventable deaths from tobacco use, obesity, road traffic crashes, drowning, and other leading causes.

“I am delighted that Mike Bloomberg has agreed to continue in his role as WHO Global Ambassador. He has had tremendous impact in that role over the past two years.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Director-General
World Health Organization

Babies nap in a Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported health center’s maternity ward in Tanzania.

Partnership for Healthy Cities

Tackling Noncommunicable Diseases by Mobilizing Governments to Take Action

Kids in Quito, Ecuador, enjoy healthier food in school cafeterias through the Partnership for Healthy Cities.

Each year, 45 million people die from preventable causes such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) as well as from injuries. A major focus of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ public health work is preventing these unnecessary deaths.

As part of his role as the World Health Organization Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries, Mike Bloomberg launched the Partnership for Healthy Cities in 2017. The partnership brings together more than 50 cities that have agreed to implement at least one proven policy to fight NCDs and injuries, increase awareness, and share best practices. As of 2018, 216 million people are living healthier and safer lives as a result of partnership-supported policies and programs. For example, Accra, Ghana, redesigned one of its most dangerous intersections to improve pedestrian safety and Quito, Ecuador, implemented a nutrition program to provide healthier meal options to 13,000 schoolchildren.

Cardiovascular Health Initiative

Bloomberg Philanthropies has also formed a partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to prevent deaths from cardiovascular disease. This initiative seeks to combat cardiovascular disease by treating high blood pressure, advocating for policies to reduce sodium consumption, and banning artificial trans-fats. For example, the effort has registered 250,000 people for hypertension treatment in government clinics across three states in India. Each individual will be monitored by clinic nurses with support from the World Health Organization.

More than
50 cities representing
216 million residents
are implementing at least one proven policy to fight NCDs and injuries through the Partnership for Healthy Cities

Noncommunicable diseases account for 67% of deaths in low- and middle-income countries, but only 2% of global health funding addresses them

Non-communicable Deaths vs. Global Health Spending

Source: IHME University of Washington, Financing Global Health 2017: Funding Universal Health Coverage and the Unfinished HIV/AIDS Agenda, Seattle, WA: IHME, 2018

Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use

Investing $1 Billion in Tobacco Control

One in ten deaths around the world is caused by tobacco use. If left unchecked, tobacco is expected to claim one billion lives this century. Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested $1 billion in tobacco control over the past decade. Efforts have centered on working with national and local governments to enact a package of policies, called MPOWER, that are proven to reduce tobacco use and save lives. This work now spans more than 110 countries and focuses on the world’s largest smoking populations, including in China, India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.

Progress since 2007 will save
35 million lives

Progress is being made around the world. The number of cigarettes sold in the world peaked in 2012 and has been declining ever since. The most recent data show a 1.5 percent decline in global sales in 2017 compared with 2016. Recent reports also show great success in Bangladesh, where the government has helped reduce the number of tobacco users by 3.5 million over the last six years. Meanwhile, with Bloomberg Philanthropies‘ support, six countries implemented new or expanded package warnings in 2018.

Chart: Global Decline in Cigarette Sales

Taking the fight directly to the tobacco industry, in 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP), a new global watchdog, at the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, South Africa. STOP will function as a robust global monitoring system to identify the tobacco industry’s deceptive practices.

Listen to learn more about our new tobacco watchdog group STOP and data’s essential role in the fight against misinformation by Big Tobacco.

STOP: A Tobacco Industry Watchdog Created to Fight Back and Win

Obesity Prevention

Fighting the Global Obesity Epidemic

Bloomberg Philanthropies works with research institutes, civil society, and governments around the world to curb rising rates of obesity through policies that make healthier food more accessible.

In Mexico, a tax on sugary beverages, passed with the help of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ partners, has reduced sales by nearly 10 percent after two years. Research has shown that households that purchased the most sugary drinks before the tax had the greatest decrease in purchases – a 16-20 percent reduction by the second year of the tax. In 2018, South Africa implemented a similar measure following advocacy efforts by Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported partners. Mike Bloomberg has also invested in research and advocacy in Brazil, Colombia, and the Caribbean, as well as in cities across the U.S.

Since its implementation, the tax in Mexico has sparked a global movement, with more than 30 additional countries, cities, and regions now implementing sugary beverage taxes.

Progress is being made around the world. The number of cigarettes sold in the world peaked in 2012 and has been declining ever since. The most recent data show a 1.5 percent decline in global sales in 2017 compared with 2016. Recent reports also show great success in Bangladesh, where the government has helped reduce the number of tobacco users by 3.5 million over the last six years. Meanwhile, with Bloomberg Philanthropies‘ support, six countries implemented new or expanded package warnings in 2018.

Taking the fight directly to the tobacco industry, in 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP), a new global watchdog, at the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, South Africa. STOP will function as a robust global monitoring system to identify the tobacco industry’s deceptive practices.

More than 30 countries, cities, and regions now have sugary beverage taxes

Initiative for Global Road Safety

Promoting Road Safety to Prevent Traffic Deaths and Injuries

A busy intersection in Mumbai, India, was redesigned with colorful barriers and crosswalks, making pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers safer.

Each year, road traffic crashes kill approximately 1.35 million people and injure up to 50 million more around the world. To avoid these preventable deaths and injuries, Bloomberg Philanthropies works to improve road safety in low- and middle-income countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America in an effort to protect everyone on the road, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and car occupants.

The initiative focuses on five main strategies in ten cities and five countries across the world: changing people’s behavior, including increasing seat belt and helmet use and reducing speeding and drinking and driving; improving road infrastructure to make streets safer; promoting sustainable urban transit options; strengthening road safety policies; and advocating for improved vehicle safety standards.

2.2 billion people are now covered by road safety policies designed to save lives and prevent injuries

Since this initiative began in 2007, Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners have helped save nearly 312,000 lives through strengthened legislation, increased enforcement, and improvement of high-risk roads. Strengthened road safety legislation now covers 2.2 billion people across nine countries and in 12 cities or regions.

In addition, partners have trained more than 79,000 professionals in road safety strategies, launched more than 55 media campaigns, and crash-tested more than 50 vehicle models across the Americas, Asia, and Africa. In India, one of those partners has led a crash-test campaign with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support that has tested 14 car models since 2015 and spurred the implementation of new vehicle safety standards in India such as required front and side crash-tests.

Hear from two of our Road Safety partners about their efforts to save lives in Fortaleza, Brazil, and other cities.

Data for Health

Following the Data to Save Lives

A medical worker in Myanmar collects health information.

Today, half of all deaths in the world (nearly 30 million each year) go unrecorded, and too many health policy decisions are based on inadequate or incomplete information. Data for Health, an initiative co-funded with the Australian government, seeks to close that gap by helping low- and middle income countries collect better public health data and improve the way they use this information to devise policies for and make investments in public health.

Data for Health supports the creation of more complete birth and death record data systems and makes sure this data and other critical health indicators are used by leaders to inform policy. To date, 20 countries (representing more than 1 billion people) have worked with Bloomberg Philanthropies to receive technical assistance to improve their public health data. Nearly 3 million death records have been newly collected or improved, and more than 30,000 health professionals have been trained to better collect or analyze health data. Twelve countries are collecting data on deaths that occur outside of a hospital for the first time, and nine have newly adopted international standards for death certificates. Governments have successfully enhanced local health care practices to improve data collection, adapting to use midwives (Myanmar), home-based care practitioners (Rwanda), and community health workers
(Tanzania) to help gather information outside of medical facilities.

By helping governments invest in new technologies, data collection has become more efficient. Peru, for example, instituted digital death certificates and reduced processing time of its data from two years to just two weeks.

Nearly 3 million death records have been newly collected or improved

Bloomberg Philanthropies Approach

Rely on data and continually measure progress.

Data provides invaluable guidance and feedback on every initiative. That is especially true for public health issues when millions of lives are at stake. Read how accurate birth and death records help improve policy.

Maternal and Reproductive Health

Improving the Health of Women and Families

Women in a Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported health center’s maternity ward in Tanzania.

More than 300,000 women die every year from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications, and 214 million women around the world lack access to contraception. Bloomberg Philanthropies works to broaden access to quality maternal and reproductive health in countries where it is limited, improving health outcomes for mothers and their children.

Through a global partnership, Bloomberg Philanthropies provides support that expands access to family planning in dozens of the lowest-income countries. Additionally, Bloomberg Philanthropies supports local organizations that advocate for new laws and programs that will improve access to reproductive health care in Burkina Faso, Uganda, Nicaragua, and Senegal.

In Tanzania, one woman dies every hour from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported the development of a new model that would change that. Focusing on the rural Kigoma Region, the project has taken a comprehensive approach, training non-physicians to provide obstetric care, upgrading or equipping 100 health facilities, and increasing women’s access to and awareness of maternal health services. In the Kigoma Region, 72 percent of women now deliver in a health facility, up from 48 percent in 2011, and 58 percent of obstetric complications are now treated, up from 43 percent in 2011.

After 12 years of investment in three regions, over 110,000 babies were delivered in a project-supported health facility and more than 6,500 C-sections performed. In 2018, the Tanzanian government decided to scale up the program across the country. So far, they have begun upgrading more than 300 health clinics, replicating what has proven to be a successful model.

In 2018, in Kigoma, more than 110,000 Tanzanians were served with the contraceptive method of their choice, which prevented nearly 33,500 unintended pregnancies and over 7,500 unsafe abortions

A Model for Preventing Maternal Deaths

Drowning Prevention

Protecting the Lives of Children

Low- and middle-income countries bear the greatest burden of drownings, accounting for 94 percent of the 322,000 global drowning deaths each year. Half of these deaths occur among people under the age of 25, with children under the age of five at the highest risk. Many of these deaths can be prevented.

The Drowning Prevention program focuses on finding local solutions in countries with high drowning rates. A successful Bloomberg Philanthropies- supported study was implemented in Bangladesh from 2013-2015, which showed that community daycare provided for children one to four years old reduces drowning risk while delivering developmental and educational benefits.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has continued supporting daycare for more than 50,000 children in Bangladesh. In 2018, it expanded the drowning program to Vietnam, launched a data-gathering exercise in Uganda, and commissioned the World Health Organization to create global best practice drowning prevention implementation guidelines.

Bloomberg Opioids Prevention Network

Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

Deputy Police Chief Eric Keiser of Eastpointe, Michigan, demonstrates how to administer the overdose-reversing drug naloxone for Mike Bloomberg and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

In 2017, more than 47,000 people in the U.S. died of opioid overdoses. Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than in a car crash. Despite this crisis, the federal government has largely offered only insufficient financial assistance instead of the comprehensive policy changes and funding that are needed.

To begin filling this void, in 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new $50 million initiative to help states craft effective opioid policies and interventions that can be shared across the country. The effort will work with ten states, starting with Michigan and Pennsylvania, to create and implement plans to stop the epidemic and save lives. Ultimately, Bloomberg Philanthropies will share guidelines on what is proven to work. The program builds on previous work done by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to help Rhode Island and other states reduce overdose deaths.

Bloomberg American Health Initiative

Advancing the Future of U.S. Public Health at Johns Hopkins University

panel discussion on opioid addiction with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

“This collaboration with Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow us to take an in-depth look at the areas where we can supplement our programs to successfully assist more Pennsylvanians. I want to see an end to opioid use disorder in Pennsylvania, and this is a step in the right direction.”
Tom Wolf
Governor
Pennsylvania

The average life expectancy of Americans has declined over the last three years, something that has not happened since World War I. The United States now ranks 34th in the world in life expectancy, behind most industrialized countries.

In response to this alarming trend, Bloomberg Philanthropies established the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at Johns Hopkins University in 2016. The initiative supports master’s degree student fellows, endowed faculty positions, a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program, public health research, and an annual national summit. It seeks to address five of the biggest public health challenges facing the United States: addiction and overdose; environmental challenges; obesity and the food system; risks to adolescent health; and violence.

In 2018, more than 350 public health practitioners, civic leaders, and advocates attended the first Bloomberg American Health Summit in Washington, D.C. Attendees heard from former Cabinet secretaries, governors, mayors, police chiefs, researchers, and activists on the front lines of America’s public health challenges.

Bloomberg Fellows Kate Vander Tuig (left) and Kelli McIntyre attend the first Bloomberg American Health Summit.

“I‘m passionate and committed to working in and with communities toward a healthier, safer, happier, and more just Philadelphia. During my time in the public health master’s program at Johns Hopkins, I want to better understand how vacancy, disinvestment, litter, and crime influence choices to be physically active – and identify solutions that get people moving.”
Kelli McIntyre
Bloomberg Fellow

Watch: Overcoming Challenges and Improving Public Health at the 2018 Bloomberg American Health Summit