Ensuring Safer, Longer, Healthier Lives
The Public Health program takes on noncommunicable diseases and injuries to reduce preventable deaths from tobacco use, unhealthy diets, road traffic crashes, and other leading causes. Bloomberg Philanthropies follows the data and builds strong partnerships with national and local governments and organizations, sharing and helping implement solutions proven to save lives. This approach also allowed the team to quickly pivot to tackle COVID-19 and support recovery efforts in cities and countries around the world.
Every single South American country now has a comprehensive smoke-free law, following a recent presidential decree in Paraguay that banned smoking in indoor public places. Bloomberg initiative partners worked with many of these countries to reach this incredible achievement.
In 2021, the initiative successfully advocated for 22 U.S. cities and counties to ban flavored e-cigarettes, bringing the total number of state and local bans supported to 55 since work began. While youth e-cigarette use remains alarmingly high, these efforts have helped spur a decline from 27.5 percent of high schoolers using e-cigarettes in 2019 to 19.6 percent in 2020. Partners worked steadily throughout 2021 to draw attention to the importance of the FDA’s review of marketing applications for flavored e-cigarette products. The FDA rejected nearly one million flavored products and temporarily halted sales of 4.5 million more while it requested additional information.
In 2021, the initiative provided 35 grants across 13 countries to support local organizations advocating for stronger road safety laws. With that support, for example, Ecuador adopted a law reducing speeds and mandating helmet use, and several Chinese cities adopted helmet requirements for e-bike riders. The initiative also built local capacity by training nearly 20,000 city staff and other stakeholders in road safety strategies, like police enforcement, safe street design, and communications; impacted road users’ behavior by airing 12 media campaigns in six cities and four countries, reaching over 35 million people; and made streets safer by helping cities redesign 75 high-risk intersections.
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Adopted a local regulation designating additional smoke-free areas, outlining penalties for violations, and strengthening enforcement.
Supported a national policy to lower speed limits and focused on improving safety in seven school zones, including infrastructure improvements and speed reduction signage.
Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care
U.S. Reproductive Health
As the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge to its decision in Roe v. Wade, millions of women across the United States are at risk of losing access to safe, affordable reproductive health care. As he has for decades, Mike Bloomberg continues to strongly support critical organizations that are defending women’s reproductive rights and challenging laws that would deny them, both at the state and federal levels.
In Michigan and Pennsylvania, the initiative’s first two focus states and among the hardest hit by the crisis, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that prior to the pandemic, both states successfully reduced overdose deaths. When COVID-19 infection rates reached their highest points, both states saw lower increases in overdose deaths than the national average. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support has helped implement more than 20 projects in each state to increase access to medication treatment, expand harm-reduction services, and promote a public health approach to drug use over punitive responses, while ensuring that equity, data, and sustainability drive the work.
Through the recent expansion, the initiative will support five additional focus states: Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. The program will continue spreading proven interventions, like increasing access to overdose-reversing naloxone and medications like buprenorphine that help treat opioid use disorder.
Preventing Deaths from Drowning Through Local Solutions
More than 235,000 people die from drowning every year, over 90 percent in low- and middle-income countries. Half are younger than 30, with children under five at the highest risk. Bloomberg Philanthropies supports local solutions to save lives in countries with high drowning rates and has partnered with the World Health Organization to share effective global measures.
Supported community daycare supervision for 50,000 children ages 1-4 – and home wellness visits when the pandemic closed educational institutions – and advocated for the government’s early childhood development plan to include community daycares, which reduce drowning risk by 88 percent.
Joined with the government to provide survival swimming classes to nearly 14,000 children ages 6-15 in 12 provinces, which the government is now using as a model to expand drowning prevention efforts around the country.
Funded a study to understand drowning incidence, showing that adults ages 20-39 in lakeside districts had the highest drowning rates.
Training a New Generation of Public Health Leaders
Bloomberg American Health Initiative
To address alarming declines in U.S. life expectancy, Bloomberg Philanthropies established the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2016. The initiative supports full scholarships for Master of Public Health and Doctor of Public Health fellows, with the requirement that each prospective fellow apply together with a collaborating organization and continue working for that organization in their community for at least a year after graduation. To date, 211 students have graduated or are currently enrolled in the program.
The initiative focuses on five of the biggest public health challenges facing the country: addiction and overdose; adolescent health; environmental challenges; obesity and the food system; and violence. In November 2021, the program’s annual summit drew more than 800 public health experts, elected officials, journalists, and advocates from across the country. Among the speakers were five governors, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine, and Bloomberg School faculty and fellows.