Tobacco use is the leading cause of non-communicable diseases like cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Every year, about six million people worldwide die from tobacco use, with the vast majority of deaths in low- and middle-income countries. We also know that tobacco use costs the world’s economies over US $1.4 trillion annually in healthcare expenditures and lost productivity.
But did you know that significant increases in tobacco taxes can curb these losses? A World Health Organization study estimates that a 50% tax increase in all countries would prevent about 11 million premature deaths caused by tobacco use.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health team
Message from Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Program on World Cancer Day
While much work remains to find a cure for cancer – the good news is we know that many forms of cancer are preventable. On World Cancer Day, a moment when the global community comes together to reflect on those lost to cancer, as well as the advances we need to make to find a cure, it’s important to remember that there are actions that governments and individuals can take to prevent cancer. In fact, governments hold many levers that can actually address this leading killer.
By Adrienne Pizatella, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health team
The Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative partners with 19 countries to support the improvement of public health data. One of the biggest challenges is a lack of accurate data around deaths, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that 65% of all deaths worldwide go unrecorded. Death registration is so important for countries because having accurate and up-to-date cause of death data allows governments, aid organizations, and public health leaders to set well-informed public health priorities for their country aiming to prevent more deaths and improve the health of the population.
For the last 10 years, Bloomberg Philanthropies has been a major supporter of tobacco control, protecting more than 3.5 billion people in low- and middle-income countries through strong policies. Knowing that we can and must do more, our founder Mike Bloomberg announced a new round of funding this year that raises our total giving to $1 billion dollars and expands our work for another 6 years.
But what does it take to protect everyone? And why did we take on this monumental task?
In part one of this two-part series, we go in depth on tobacco control and how Bloomberg Philanthropies is working with partners around the world to protect billions of people from the harmful effects of tobacco.
By David Williams, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is a small country in West Africa with roughly 6 million residents. According to the 2013 Demographic Health Survey, adolescents and youth constitute 55% of the total population, yet youth access to reproductive health services remains a challenge. The prevalence of child marriage is very high, and 48% of 20-24 year old females were married by age 18. Coupled with this is a high adolescent birth-rate; 4 out of 10 women give birth by their 18th birthday. 31% of women want to space or limit their births, but are not currently using a modern form of contraception (also known as “unmet need” for family planning). In fact, only 16% of married women between ages 15-49 use any form of modern contraception.
In the third episode of Follow the Data – a podcast about how our work is driving change and making an impact in the areas of education, the arts, the environment, public health and government innovation – we hear from partners of our Data for Health initiative to understand how they are working to improve health data around the world.
Statement by Dr. Kelly Henning on UK Court Decision to Strike Down Tobacco Industry Challenge on Plain Packaging
“Today the UK High Court ruled in favor of public health by dismissing tobacco industry claims that challenged the 2015 UK law that required tobacco products be sold in plain packaging. Bloomberg Philanthropies supports this ruling and applauds the UK court for paving the way for implementation of UK plain packaging, tomorrow, May 20th. The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use focuses on evidence based tobacco policies and works to promote public awareness of tobacco’s harms. This ruling is an important step in the accelerating movement by countries to include plain packaging in their comprehensive tobacco control strategies and to raise awareness about the massive health harms of tobacco use.”
With the generous support of Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2008 and the Fondation H&B Agerup in 2012, Vital Strategies – formerly known as the World Lung Foundation – set out to upgrade rural Tanzanian health centers to provide comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care (CEmONC). At that time, CEmONC services were only available at hospitals, located hours away for most rural women experiencing potentially life-threatening obstetric complications. Vital Strategies trained non-physician clinicians (known globally as ‘associate clinicians’) in obstetric surgery and anesthesia, built operating theaters, set facilities up with equipment, supplies and medications and provided mentoring, supervision and continuing medical education to health providers.
By Piyush Tewari, Founder & CEO, SaveLIFE Foundation
The death of a loved one always comes with shock, but that shock ceases to fade when it could have been prevented. Nearly 150,000 people in India are killed each year in road crashes, many of them dying from treatable injuries. The Law Commission of India states that 50 percent of deaths in road crashes in India can be averted if victims were to get even basic care on time. With over one million road crash deaths in India in the past decade alone, this translates to half-a-million people whose lives could have been saved. In the absence of an established Emergency Medical Services system, bystanders and passersby can play a crucial role in saving lives. Yet, in India, they don’t – mostly out of fear of police harassment and prolonged court cases.
Statement by Dr. Kelly Henning in Response to the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Announcement of a Tax on Sugary Drinks
“George Osborne’s announcement today to tax sugary drinks puts the U.K. at the forefront of the global fight to reduce obesity and diabetes. It is exciting to see governments taking concrete actions to address these serious public health problems. Bloomberg Philanthropies has been a strong advocate for comprehensive public health approaches in reducing obesity, including supporting public health advocates and experts in Mexico who successfully pushed for the passage of a 10 percent tax on sugar sweetened beverages. Governments are standing up for health – sugary drinks are a major contributor to empty calories around the world.”