Nearly every nation is experiencing rising rates of overweight and obesity and no country has successfully reversed these trends. This poses a serious threat to people’s health and wellbeing; the significant healthcare costs associated with treating obesity and related conditions, such as diabetes heart disease and certain cancers, have the potential to undermine economic development across the globe.
A major cause of the obesity epidemic is easy access to unhealthy, ultra-processed foods and beverages that are inexpensive and marketed heavily—especially to children. We need leaders who can stand up to the food and beverage industry and fight for communities where healthy foods are the norm, not the exception.
Dr. Neena Prasad of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health team spoke with three public health experts who are doing just that: Paula Johns, Director of ACT Health Promotion in Brazil; Professor Karen Hofman, Director of Priceless South Africa; and Deborah Chen, Executive Director of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica. They describe the food environments in their countries and highlight some of the successes and challenges of their work.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team program lead
Michael R. Bloomberg has long been focused on improving public health — during his time as New York City Mayor, in his work through his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and now in his role as the World Health Organization Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases. Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed nearly $1 billion since 2007 to combat tobacco use worldwide. The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use partners with low- and middle-income countries to reduce tobacco use through a comprehensive, proven approach that combines evidence-based policy change with increased public awareness.
Tobacco is a deadly killer, claiming over seven million lives every year, with most of the deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Mike Bloomberg has been committed to tobacco control since first entering office as New York City Mayor, and Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested one billion dollars to help implement tobacco control measures.
Dr. Kelly Henning leads Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health programs. She’s been on the road, visiting countries across the world, as part of a “global health check-up.” She spoke to the foundation’s operations lead, Allison Jaffin, about the progress countries are making, sharing lessons learned and stories from the road.
Through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, the City of Jackson Mississippi aims to address complex food access issues in the city. Their project “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue About Food Access,” will enlist an interdisciplinary team of local and national artists, landscape architects, filmmakers, farmers, chefs, nutritionists, and community members. The project teams will come together to create a city-wide exhibition with installations, performances and programming. Workshops and panels will address challenges stemming from a proliferation of fast food restaurants in the area and the need for healthy food opportunities for the community.
By Dr. Neena Prasad of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team
Tanzania’s Kigoma region is about the size of the average American state. In 2006, when we launched our Maternal and Reproductive Health Program, it was home to 2 million people—that’s about the number of people in Nebraska. But not a single one of those people was an obstetrician. And that’s important to note because, around the world, deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are unacceptably high.
By Dr. Kelly Henning of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team
I was fortunate to meet in Dubai with our partners from across the globe working to combat the tobacco epidemic in Pakistan — a country where more than 160,000 people die every year from tobacco-related diseases.
Many low- and middle-income countries have little or no regulatory standards for vehicles.
For example, in the United States all cars must have seat-belts and airbags, which together reduce the risk of death by 61%. But in many countries where we work, car manufacturers are not required to install seat-belts or airbags, leaving the passengers at higher risk for death and injury.
That’s why the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety has dedicated $259 million over 12 years to implement interventions that have been proven to reduce road traffic fatalities and injuries in low- and middle-income countries.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Public Health program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies
Earlier this summer, I arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the middle of a drenching monsoon. In this part of the world, monsoons are common and fortunately don’t deter our partners at various government ministries and nonprofits from carrying on their life-saving work. I found the same to be true 1,734 miles (2,784km) away in Manila, Philippines, where two days later, I connected with government and NGO partners from our Road Safety, Tobacco Control, and Data for Health Initiatives.
Though vastly different in many ways, the governments of Indonesia and the Philippines face similar obstacles in both controlling tobacco and making roads safer, so that their citizens can live longer, healthier lives. And there’s a lot we can learn from these countries as they make progress on these critical public health issues.
Without action, road traffic crashes will become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. That’s why the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety has dedicated $259 million over 12 years to implement interventions that have been proven to reduce road traffic fatalities and injuries in low- and middle-income countries. In 2015 we began implementing evidence-based interventions in our global network of ten cities, strengthening road safety legislation in five targeted countries, and crash testing new vehicles in four world regions. One of the cities included in the initiative is Fortaleza, Brazil.
Kelly Larson of Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team spoke to two partners about their efforts in Fortaleza and in other cities. Luis Sabóia is the Executive Secretary for the Department of Public Services in Fortaleza – where road traffic deaths dropped 32 percent from 2014 to 2017.
By Dr. Neena Prasad, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Obesity Prevention Program lead
According to the World Health Organization, without intervention, the number of overweight and obese infants and young children globally will increase from 41 million in 2016 to 70 million by 2025—leaving them vulnerable to premature onset of illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. That’s why I was so encouraged to see G20 Health Ministers last week place childhood obesity prevention among their priority issues. Obesity is a public health issue that virtually every country either is—or soon will be—grappling with, and the ensuing health and economic consequences could be catastrophic, particularly for developing countries.
For decades, tobacco giants have tried to deceive the public. In addition to aggressively marketing its combustible cigarettes to children and teenagers in low- and middle-income countries, the industry is pushing alternative products, such as heat-not-burn and e-cigarettes, although the evidence about long-term safety is not yet clear. Tobacco industry-funded research has repeatedly been a smokescreen for behavior that has led to worse outcomes for smokers.
Professor Anna Gilmore, director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath spoke to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health program lead, Dr. Kelly Henning. They discuss the importance of shedding light on tobacco industry tactics, collaborating with STOP partners, and data’s essential role in the fight against misinformation.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health program lead
For the first time in history, more people are dying of noncommunicable diseases (we call them NCDs) such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease than infectious diseases. These diseases, which are responsible for 41 million deaths every year, including 17 million people who die prematurely before the age of 70, are responsible for cutting promising lives short around the world. On top of that, 5 million people die every year from injuries, and road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health team
Left unchecked, tobacco use will kill one billion people this century. It’s the most preventable cause of death in the world. But saving lives means more than just quitting smoking. It means pushing back against a powerful, wide-reaching global industry that spends tens of billions of dollars every single year to recruit tobacco users through aggressive marketing campaigns.
By Becky Bavinger, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team
The Global Road Safety Leadership Course – a two-week course organized by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Global Road Safety Partnership – has trained over 300 people from 50 countries since 2016. Held twice each year – once in Baltimore and the other at a rotating location so far including Kuala Lampur, Malaysia and Nairobi, Kenya – the course is part of the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety which focuses on spreading effective road safety solutions and building capacity of municipalities to implement road safety interventions, and supports national governments in strengthening legislation.
Global Health Checkup: Celebrating Progress in Vietnam to Reduce Tobacco Use, Seeking Opportunities to Go Further
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Public Health program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies
An astounding 45 percent of adult males in Vietnam use tobacco, compared to only 1 percent of women. These high smoking rates among men in Vietnam are at the core of the country’s health problems with more than 40,000 tobacco-related deaths each year.
The challenges in Vietnam are difficult, but surmountable. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ deep collaboration with the government and local organizations demonstrates that together we can make real strides toward reducing tobacco use in this country of nearly 100 million people.
By Mayor Adjei Sowah, Accra, Ghana
Last week, my colleagues and I broke ground at the Lapaz intersection. It is the first step in making Accra’s roads safer for all our citizens.
The Lapaz intersection is the most dangerous intersection in the city, poorly designed with limited speed restrictions and no safe passage for pedestrians. In 2015, 25 of the 253 traffic-related fatalities were around the N1 highway, along which the Lapaz intersection sits.
It is cities like Accra, in low- and middle-income countries, that bear the greatest burden of road traffic crashes. The majority of the world’s countries lack adequate laws to counter growing numbers of traffic deaths and injuries. As a result, 90 percent of the 1.3 million deaths on the road every year occur in low- and middle-income countries.
This week, we revisit an episode featuring a conversation with Dr. Tom Frieden, one of the world’s leading public health experts, and President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, and Allison Jaffin of Bloomberg Philanthropies as they discuss noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and what it takes to protect the world.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team lead
On Monday, May 7, the coastal city of Fortaleza, Brazil rolled out a red carpet in front of City Hall. The guests of honor? Not celebrities or dignitaries — though some wore crowns — but pedestrians. Everyday people who are among the 2.5 million that call this city home.
The event was part of Fortaleza’s participation in the annual “Yellow May” festival. Supported by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), Fortaleza is joining cities across Brazil — and around the world — to draw attention to road safety and introduce new initiatives to make streets safer and more accessible for vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians.
By Dr. Neena Prasad, Director of Maternal and Reproductive Health Program, Bloomberg Philanthropies
Around the world, approximately 830 women die daily from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Developing countries have an overall maternal mortality ratio of 239 deaths per 100,000 live births, while in developed countries that ratio is 12 deaths per 100,000 live births. Ninety-nine percent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
These sobering statistics underscore the healthcare disparities between high- and low-income countries, especially when it comes to women’s health—and the dire need to address them.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team
Nearly 30 million deaths go unregistered without a cause of death each year. Put another way, more than half of deaths globally aren’t recorded with any usable information. And, nearly 40 percent of the 128 million babies born each year are not officially registered. Without this crucial data, a government cannot create policies that lower risk for disease and positively influence the health and wellness of its citizens. This lack of data can result in errant or misinformed health policy that harms the economy, education, democracy, and other vital attributes of a robust society.
by Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team lead
Brazil, a country known for its spectacular coastline, football prowess, and vibrant culture, has also become known in the public health community for its progressive action to prevent noncommunicable diseases.
On the first stop of my “Global Health Checkup,” I was not only wowed by Rio’s sprawling beaches and Brasilia’s magnificent architecture but also by the incredible work public health leaders are doing to help their citizens lead healthier lives.
By Dr. Vishal Rao, Chief of Head Neck Surgical Oncology at Healthcare Global Enterprise Cancer Hospital in Bengaluru, India
Bengaluru is a city on the rise. In India’s southern Karnataka state, the city has become the tech hub of the global south, with a burgeoning start-up community and an Asian base for the world’s largest technology companies. But a smoke-filled cloud hangs over Bengaluru’s success. A national law prohibiting smoking in public places has not led to smoke free spaces, and many individuals are unaware of the harms of exposure to secondhand smoke in workplaces and homes.
Bengaluru is fighting to change the status quo. As part of the Partnership for Healthy Cities – supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Vital Strategies and the World Health Organization –Bengaluru has committed to becoming a smoke-free city.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team lead
April 22 is Earth Day. As we focus on conserving our lands and cleaning up our planet, it is important to also remember that the exposures in our environment impact our physical health.
The air pollution that comes from burning fuels for energy can also cause noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke and lung diseases. These diseases lead to over 39.5 million deaths globally every year of which over six million are due to outdoor and indoor air pollution.
In the United States, over two million people are addicted to opioids and an average of 115 people die every day from opioid overdoses. It is a complicated issue that requires multifaceted solutions, with engagement and action from many stakeholders.
In this episode, Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health Program Lead, speaks with Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is also director of the school’s Bloomberg American Health Initiative, which was launched with a $300 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
By Kelly Larson, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health team
Drowning is often considered a “silent epidemic” due to the lack of attention it receives around the world. Bloomberg Philanthropies is dedicated to addressing this under-recognized public health issue. Our work began in 2012, with a study on the effectiveness of community daycares and playpens in Bangladesh for roughly 70,000 children under the age of 5. The study showed a 74 percent reduction in drowning deaths for children in daycare. These children also demonstrated increased cognitive development.
In honor of the winners of the 2018 Bloomberg Philanthropies Tobacco Awards and the progress these countries have made, we revisit one of our favorite podcast episodes about the worldwide fight to reduce tobacco use. This episode’s conversation is between Neena Prasad of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health team, Yolonda Richardson, from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and Jose Luis Castro, executive director of the Union and CEO of Vital Strategies.
Each year, nearly seven million people worldwide are killed by tobacco use, mostly in developing nations. The 2018 winners highlight the progress being made to control tobacco use and show the effectiveness of the MPOWER strategies, developed by WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases Mike Bloomberg and former WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in 2008.
By Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Health lead
Tobacco use is responsible for more than seven million deaths each year worldwide. While that number is shocking, these deaths are preventable if governments and philanthropy work together to combat the tactics of Big Tobacco. On March 7th, the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, the premier international forum on tobacco control, will gather public and private sector officials from more than 100 countries to advance this ongoing fight.
Professor Corinna Hawkes is Co-Chair of the Independent Expert Group of the Global Nutrition Report and Director, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London, UK
The Global Nutrition Report sets out to create accountability for greater action to end malnutrition. The report is written by the Independent Expert Group with data, guidance and funding provided by UN agencies, governments, funders, civil society and businesses. Established in 2013, we track global and national progress against nutrition targets, assess how well government, civil society and business are doing in keeping up with commitments they have made to address malnutrition, and evaluate financing. We also aim to challenge our own community and those beyond it to think and act differently for nutrition.
By Advocacy Center LIFE, Ukraine
New data from the 2017 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), presented on September 5 in Kyiv, is a testimony to the success of Ukraine in our fight against the tobacco epidemic. Everyone who is passionate about public health and noncommunicable disease prevention was looking forward to learn about the progress that Ukraine has made in reducing tobacco consumption since 2010, when the first GATS was conducted.
According to the results of the survey, daily smoking prevalence has dropped by nearly 20 percent during the last seven years, from 25% in 2010 to 20% in 2017.