NEW YORK, New York, August 20, 2021 (ENS) – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced a $31 million investment to bring six new cities on three continents into its Partnership for Healthy Cities network – Bucharest, Romania; Cairo, Egypt; Córdoba, Argentina; Dublin, Ireland; Greater Manchester, United Kingdom; and Warsaw, Poland.
This networked partnership, which now includes 70 cities, supports mayors implementing proven, high-impact policies or programs to reduce noncommunicable diseases, NCDs, and injuries in their communities.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has now invested $52 million in the Partnership for Healthy Cities since its launch in 2017.
The Partnership for Healthy Cities was established as part of former New York mayor and news publisher Michael Bloomberg’s role as the World Health Organization’s Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries.
“Through the Partnership for Healthy Cities, local leaders around the world are improving public health and saving lives – and today, we’re glad to welcome six new members,” said Bloomberg.
“These cities and their mayors are committed to implementing programs and policies that protect the health and safety of millions of people. We look forward to supporting their work and replicating the most effective efforts around the world,” he said.
The partnership is a collaboration with WHO and Vital Strategies, a global health organization based in New York City.
NCDs such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory diseases, and injuries, including road traffic crashes, cause an estimated 80 percent of deaths across the world each year. In 2020, the Partnership incorporated support for member cities’ COVID-19 responses.
“The health and well-being of billions of people depends to a large degree on the urban environments in which they live and work,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general, World Health Organization.
“WHO applauds Bloomberg Philanthropies’ leadership and ongoing support for the Partnership for Healthy Cities, as well as the commitment of all the cities in the partnership,” Dr. Tedros said. “We stand ready to support this important work for the next four years to create cities that nurture health, rather than harming it.”
Cities Plan Vaccine Outreach, Healthy Food, Safe Streets
As part of the Partnership, the Cairo Governate will work on making healthier food options available for people eating in city restaurants.
“I am so greatly honored today that Cairo is joining the Partnership for Healthy Cities network,” said Governor of Cairo Khaled Abdel-Aal. “We look forward to benefitting from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ expertise, as well as other cities’ experiences, to ensure that best international practices are reflected in our efforts.”
The city of Córdoba will initially focus on COVID-19 vaccine outreach to older adults who have difficulty reading and writing or are hesitant about being vaccinated.
“On behalf of our residents, Córdoba is proud to be able to participate in the Partnership for Healthy Cities,” said Martín Llaryora, Intendant of Córdoba, Argentina. “We remain focused on the health of the people of Córdoba. We believe that joining the Partnership will propel our city into a healthier future, helping us make a qualitative leap in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and return to normalcy in the healthiest way.”
Dublin City Council will expand a pedestrian access and safety audit with the goal of transforming the street and sidewalks to be more friendly to people, not cars.
“We live in an increasingly connected global world, and networks like these are very important in helping us all learn from one another,” said Alison Gilliland, Lord Mayor of Dublin. “Here in Dublin, we have been working hard to promote active mobility by increasing facilities for cyclists and introducing school zones and cycle buses, as well as pedestrianizing some of our city center streets.
Bucharest, Greater Manchester, and Warsaw will announce their health or safety projects soon.
“As in other parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed existing health and social inequalities, and parts of the North of England have seen a dramatic fall in life expectancy,” said Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham. “Joining a global network like this means we can share ideas and solutions with each other to close the health and wealth gaps between communities.”
What the Partnership Offers
In the Partnership for Healthy Cities, local governments select from one of 14 interventions that address tobacco control, road safety, safe and active mobility, healthy food, data surveillance, or overdose prevention.
City staff are provided with technical assistance, communications support, grants of up to $100,000, workshops, and access to in-person and virtual peer-to-peer exchanges that support collaboration and sharing of lessons learned about areas of urban health and safety.
Important strides by partner cities toward their health and safety goals include the Municipality of Lima, Peru, passing a local ordinance promoting healthy food environments in schools and restaurants through such measures as restrictions on junk food sales and marketing.
Both Melbourne, Australia, and Bandung, Indonesia, have adopted new smoke-free laws which will protect the health of urban residents by prohibiting smoking in most public spaces.
“Cities have long served as drivers of public health, a distinction which holds even more importance as urban areas stand to absorb up to 68 percent of the world’s population by 2050,” said José Luis Castro, president and CEO of Vital Strategies.
Castro served as the first president of the NCD Alliance from 2017-2019, a network of over 2,000 civil society organizations in more than 170 countries dedicated to combating the global non-communicable disease epidemic. Last October, Castro concluded a six-year term as executive director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.
“Although the heavy toll of NCDs and injuries remains a challenge, we celebrate the remarkable progress made by cities in the Partnership,” Castro said. “Our global network is leading the way to make big, systemic changes to improve the health and safety of urban residents around the world.”
During the current pandemic, the Partnership pivoted to provide resources to network cities for their COVID-19 responses. This included a webinar series, led by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, that connected mayors worldwide and provided them with access to the latest COVID-19 information and the perspectives of leading experts, and an online response center with more than 400 resources and tools.
Fifty-two cities in the network benefitted from additional grant funding to address their COVID-19 response and vaccination needs. Several member cities in Latin America focused on expanding bicycling infrastructure as the pandemic created a need for safer alternatives to public trasnportation.
The 64 cities continuing their membership in the Partnership for Healthy Cities are Abidjan, Accra, Addis Ababa, Ahmedabad, Amman, Athens, Bandung, Bangkok, Barcelona, Bengaluru, Birmingham, Bogotá, Boston, Buenos Aires, Cali, Cape Town, Casablanca, Chicago, Colombo, Dakar, Dhaka, Fortaleza, Freetown, Guadalajara, Hanoi, Harare, Helsinki, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Jakarta, Kampala, Kathmandu, Kigali, Kuala Lumpur, Kumasi, Kyiv, León, Lima, London, Lusaka, Medellín, Melbourne, Mexico City, Montevideo, Mumbai, Muscat, Ouagadougou, Paris, Philadelphia, Phnom Penh, Quezon City, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Santiago, Santo Domingo, São Paulo, Seoul, Tokyo, Toronto, Tunis, Vancouver, and Yangon.
Featured image: Cairo traffic jam, February 16, 2019 (Photo by International Monetary Fund)