New York: Billionaire Bloomberg will fund $5m public health projects in 40 cities worldwide. Melbourne, Accra and Ulaanbaatar are among the cities to be benefited from funding by former New York mayor to tackle issues from air pollution to obesity.
Bloomberg did plenty more for public health while Mayor of New York, including imposing one of the first bans on smoking in bars and restaurants in 2003. Since then he has widened his sphere of influence, funding successful campaigns through his philanthropic foundation for sugar taxes in Mexico and Philadelphia and for curbs on smoking all over the world. Last year he was appointed as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global ambassador for non-communicable diseases.
The cities that commit to the Partnership for Healthy Cities can choose between curbing sugary drink consumption, passing laws to make public places smoke-free or banning cigarette advertising, cutting salt in food, using cleaner fuels, encouraging cycling and walking, reducing speeding, increasing seatbelt and helmet use, curbing drink driving or carrying out a survey to collect data on the lifestyle risks the city population runs. “But there are places where poor people live and they are still smoking and really damaging their lungs and they are going to die young. It is up to us to keep the battle going. Sugar is a little bit less developed but still working,” said Bloomberg.
Bloomberg’s attention is on non-communicable diseases more broadly now – that includes air pollution and road traffic accidents as well as cigarettes, alcohol and bad food. Cities in poor countries may argue that they have too many other problems to spend time on rather than sugary drinks, but, says Bloomberg, poverty, ill-health and poor education are all interlinked.