New Health Crisis in Developing Countries: Heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes become the biggest killers

By Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

The biggest global health crisis in low- and middle-income countries is not Ebola, nor is it HIV/AIDS. While the fight against those infectious diseases remains critically important, the emerging health issue in low- and middle-income countries is noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). These are defined as diseases that result in chronic illnesses. The crisis is related to lack of preventative measures and healthcare, as well as poorly functioning health systems. Noncommunicable diseases are becoming the biggest killers.

That is the message of a landmark new report by the Council on Foreign Relations, funded in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies, titled The Emerging Global Health Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. The report recommends specific steps the United States can take now and in the near and long term to use its leadership position on global health issues to address this crisis in lower-income countries.

Are You Taking the Public Art Challenge?

By Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of the City of New Orleans and Chair of the Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports (TAPES) Standing Committee at the US Conference of Mayors (USCM)

With the deadline for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge approaching on December 15, I am reflecting on how art transforms cities into vibrant cultural centers, revitalize neighborhoods and makes cities more appealing to visit, work and live.

WHO Report Outlines Ten Ways to Prevent Drowning

By Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

To help put better data and context behind this leading cause of death, Bloomberg Philanthropies helped fund a new World Health Organization study The Global Report on Drowning; Preventing a Leading Killer. Bloomberg Philanthropies CEO Patricia E. Harris and Dr. Kelly Henning of the Foundation’s public health team, travelled to Geneva to launch the report which is the first major study of its kind to look at drowning deaths worldwide, their causes, and to recommend practical solutions that will prevent these needless deaths.

“Despite the terrible toll drowning takes on communities around the world – especially in low- and middle-income countries – it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves as a serious and preventable problem. This report can help change that, and it will help us save many lives,” said Patricia E. Harris.

Commercial Fishing Far Out Sea & Over the Horizon – Until Now

Oceans provide food and income for 3 billion people around the world and demand is expected to increase as the world population grows. But overfishing – taking more fish out of the ocean than can be naturally replaced – is leading to a vicious cycle where fishermen work hard, use more advanced technologies but still catch fewer or smaller sized fish. The destructive behaviors at the root of the issue aren’t always obvious. Commercial fleets operate far out in sea, over the horizon, and out of sight – until now. Oceana, a Bloomberg Philanthropies grantee, in partnership with Google and SkyTruth have joined forces to help bring a level of unprecedented transparency to commercial fishing through a new tool called Global Fishing Watch.

Barcelona to Highlight Mayors Challenge-Winning Program to Aid Aging Population During Gathering of City Innovators

By Mayor Xavier Trias, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is the European Capital of Innovation. Each day we continue to pioneer the use of technology to improve important urban services, including public transport, street lighting, waste and water management, and social and health care. And the world is taking notice. In 2011 we were named the Mobile World Capital, and Barcelona is recognized worldwide as a leading “smart city.”

In response to these accolades, Barcelona was selected to host a new edition of the City Innovation Summit, an excellent complement to the annual Smart City Expo World Congress, which kicks off today. Smart City Expo and the City Innovation Summit are landmark events, bringing together over 400 leading city innovators, strategists, and thinkers to share and improve cutting edge initiatives that are transforming cities into centers of culture, knowledge, creativity, innovation and wellbeing.

Family Planning 2020 Makes Measurable Progress in First Two Years

By Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

In just two years since the July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning – where a global collaboration of governments, non-profit organizations, donors and researchers gathered to bring much-needed attention and resources to family planning programs – significant progress has been made in expanding access to modern contraceptives for women and girls in the world’s poorest countries.

The Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) second annual progress report released on November 3rd indicates that an additional 8.4 million women and girls used modern contraception in 2013 compared to 2012. FP2020 aims to expand contraceptive access to an additional 120 million women and girls across 69 countries in the developing world by 2020.

Artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer Discusses His New Artwork Fiducial Voice Beacons at the Bloomberg Philanthropies Supported Science Museum in London

By Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts Team

Today, museums are turning towards innovative technology to extend their reach beyond an institution’s four walls, allowing more people to access their resources. That’s why Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to support their pursuit of technology that encourages creativity, engagement and connection.

One of our newest grantees, the Science Museum in London, announced this week the opening of the new Information Age gallery. Beginning October 25th, Information Age: Six Networks That Changed Our World will feature over 800 objects from the Science Museum collections and use specially commissioned interactive displays, games and mobile experiences to explore the remarkable technological breakthroughs that have helped create the connected world we live in today.

Mike Bloomberg Meets Mayors to Discuss Progress Restoring Oceans

By Bloomberg Philanthropies Environment Team

This month Bloomberg Philanthropies gathered a group of Filipino Conservation Fellows and mayors involved in the Vibrant Oceans Initiative, which aims to revitalize the world’s oceans, combat marine destruction and over-fishing. The Mayors have been working to protect marine areas and establish exclusive fishing rights in their communities. Because of the Mayors’ efforts, communities are fishing more sustainably and in some cases the abundance of fish along their shores has actually increased.

Our Ocean: Next Steps on Sustainable Fishing and Marine-Protected Areas

On September 25, 2014, Patti Harris, the CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies, joined Secretary of State John Kerry, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli and dignitaries from around the world to discuss the urgent work of protecting the oceans.

From Farmer to Entrepreneur

Last week, Asterie Mukangango—Rwandan farmer, president of the Nyampinga cooperative, and an early trainee of Sustainable Harvest-Rwanda—attended the 2014 Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum (WVEF) in Kigali. Just a year ago, she and her fellow cooperative members were farming small plots of coffee trees with no knowledge of the coffee value chain beyond the processing facility where they sold harvested coffee cherries. Now Asterie and her cooperative are increasing ownership of their coffee with the help of Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partner Sustainable Harvest. Sustainable Harvest Rwanda and Bloomberg Philanthropies founded the nonprofit Relationship Coffee Institute, which works in Rwanda to source coffee while emphasizing quality, relationships, transparency, and sustainability throughout the supply chain. By using this model, Asterie and nearly 1,000 additional women farmers gain access to coffee agronomy best practices as well as training in coffee processing, roasting, and tasting.

Museums and More Go Digital with Support from Bloomberg Connects

The audio guide. The museum map.

For years, these tools have led visitors on journeys through the world’s greatest cultural institutions. They’ve provided a one-way means of experiencing amazing artifacts and groundbreaking galleries. Now, it’s time for some new tools – tools made for the digital, social sharing age.

Now, it’s time for some new tools – tools made for the digital, social sharing age.

Mapping Methane: Plugging Local Natural Gas Leaks Can Yield Global Climate Benefits

In partnership with Google and the Robertson Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies grantee Environmental Defense Fund is working to build a faster, cheaper way to find and assess gas leaks under our streets and sidewalks.

Bloomberg Philanthropies / Google ‘Hangout’ at the US-Africa Business Forum

Bloomberg News Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Allen anchors an all-day ‘Google Hangout’ at the US-Africa Business Forum hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and U.S. Department of Commerce.

Photo Essay: Dispatch from Maternal Health Clinic in Tanzania

Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to accelerating progress in Kigoma to reach Millennium Development Goal 5 – the reduction of maternal death by 75% between 1990 and 2015. Few countries are on track to reach this goal, but with the dedication of our partners and the Tanzanian government, we are optimistic Kigoma can attain it and be a model for the world.

The Power of a Penny: Building Knowledge to Invest in What Works in Education

According to a new report by Bloomberg Philanthropies partner, Results for America, by shifting just 1% of federal education funds to review what aspect of education programs have an impact – education funding could be much better informed and driven by evidence of what actually works.

VIDEO: Verna Eggleston Explains the Story behind our Women’s Economic Development Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa

As part of our work to provide vocational training to women in Sub-Saharan Africa to help them earn income and improve their lives, Bloomberg Philanthropies trains female farmers in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to harvest and export high quality coffee from crop to cup and shows them how to benefit directly from coffee sales. Verna Eggleston of Bloomberg Philanthropies tells the inspiring story of how and why we’re investing in women’s economic development in Africa and partners explain how coffee fits into the picture.

Why We Need to Raise Tobacco Taxes

By Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director, Prevention of non-communicable diseases, World Health Organization

For a long time, the tobacco industry has fiercely opposed levies on tobacco products and launched intense campaigns against efforts to raise tobacco taxes, making the fight to curb tobacco use challenging. The reality is that raising taxes on tobacco products is the most effective way to reduce tobacco use, generate revenue for health programs and most importantly, save lives. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) is putting tobacco taxes back on the agenda for World No Tobacco Day 2014.

5 Ways The Met is Using Technology

By Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Most people don’t associate museums with technology beyond audio guides – which were cutting-edge visitor experiences at one time – but that’s quickly changing. The Digital Engagement Initiative at Bloomberg Philanthropies is supporting cultural institutions like the Met Museum to use all kinds of digital, mobile and social media to connect with our audiences and enhance their experiences.

At the Met, I have the privilege of working with a wonderful team of technologists and art experts on ways we can increase access to our collection for everyone including those who visit our galleries in New York to online art enthusiasts around the world. It’s a revolutionary moment for us as we explore new ways to engage our audience through technology – even the audio guide has evolved into a multimedia device – and with the advent of smartphones, we are ramping up our efforts to transform how visitors learn about and interact with art through a mobile experience.

Here are five examples – among many others – of technology in action at the Met:

Q&A with Esther Mukundane of Sustainable Harvest Rwanda: Creating opportunity for female coffee farmers in Rwanda

Sustainable Harvest is the pioneer of the Relationship Coffee Model, a system of sourcing that stresses quality, transparency, and sustainability throughout the supply chain. Through a three-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Sustainable Harvest recently launched a nonprofit entity, the Relationship Coffee Institute, which will create economic opportunities for women in the Rwandan coffee trade.

As part of the launch of the Relationship Coffee Institute, Sustainable Harvest held a regional version of its Let’s Talk Coffee event. Bringing together 80 female coffee farmers from rural areas, Let’s Talk Coffee Rwanda offered trainings both on the entire coffee value chain and on mushroom and honey production. The event also brought together roasters, retailers, NGOs, and senior government officials to discuss challenges and strengthen opportunities for smallholder farmers to make connections in the value chain.

In this Q&A, Bloomberg Philanthropies asked Esther Mukundane, country director of Sustainable Harvest Rwanda, about her experience at Let’s Talk Coffee, what surprised her the most about the event, and how everyone can support the initiative:

Mike Bloomberg’s Annual Letter on Philanthropy

This year begins a new stage for Bloomberg Philanthropies – and for me personally. Over the past twenty years, I have grown increasingly active in philanthropy – and increasingly convinced of its power to save lives and change the world for the better. When I left City Hall on December 31, 2013, after having had the honor of serving New Yorkers for 12 years, I began having more time to spend on national and global issues. The same is true for Patti Harris, who served as my First Deputy Mayor and is also CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Now, both of us are excited by the opportunity to substantially expand the work of Bloomberg Philanthropies and our involvement in it.

Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated staff and our diverse and driven partners, Bloomberg Philanthropies has already established itself as a force for policy innovation and global collaboration. In fact, this month we were named the world’s second most innovative organization, behind only Google, by Fast Company. That honor is a reflection of groundbreaking work that is happening in each of our different program areas.

New U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco’s Harmful Effects Shows that Progress Is Possible, but More Work Remains

By Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

Fifty years ago the U.S. Surgeon General released a landmark report that linked smoking to cancer and fundamentally changed public attitudes around tobacco. Since then, considerable progress has been made in the United States – smoking rates have been cut in half since the 1964 report was released. Strong policies have banned smoking from many public spaces and prohibit tobacco advertising in many media outlets. And taxes on cigarettes have been increased federally by many states and localities.

To commemorate the report’s anniversary, the U.S. Surgeon General released an updated report on the tobacco epidemic. The new study notes declines in U.S. smoking prevalence, and that’s good news, but the report also indicates that much more work is still needed to end the deadly tobacco epidemic.

A Record Setting Year for Clean Energy and Decline of U.S. Reliance on Coal

Reducing America’s reliance on energy from coal and moving towards cleaner, alternative energy sources is central to the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ environmental work. By partnering with the Sierra Club to launch the Beyond Coal campaign, our support is helping to move the U.S. off of coal by 2020. Today, the Sierra Club today announced the following major news:

2013 was a momentous year for clean energy, as solar and wind generation hit record highs, prices plummeted, and wind and solar took on increased market share from coal. Installation of renewable energy capacity outpaced coal, oil, and nuclear growth combined. The coal industry saw numerous setbacks, and nationwide thirty percent of existing coal plants in the United States are now announced to retire — 158 plants, representing over 20% of the nation’s coal power. Not a single coal plant has broken ground over the past three years.

Sustainable Transportation Benefits Both Public Health and the Environment

By the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

Sustainable urban transportation is one of the primary focus areas for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program. Getting people out of private vehicles and into public transportation is important for reducing the injuries, deaths and diseases associated with traffic crashes, carbon emissions, and physical inactivity. To promote safer urban transport, Bloomberg Philanthropies partners with EMBARQ, a top sustainable urban transportation organization and a program of the World Resources Institute. EMBARQ advises both government officials and the private sector on transportation and urban development. Bloomberg Philanthropies supports their work in Brazil, India, Mexico, and Turkey, helping to ensure that sustainable transport initiatives, such as citywide bike lanes and Bus Rapid Transit systems, are as safe as possible.

Colorado Proposal Would Lead the Nation with New Clean Air Rules

By Mark Brownstein, Associate Vice President & Chief Counsel of Environmental Defense Fund’s US Climate and Energy Program

Colorado is in the midst of an oil and gas boom brought about by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Proponents of this new development cite economic and environmental benefits, and there’s certainly something to the argument that new natural gas is helping to drive dirty old coal out of Colorado’s energy mix – and the nation’s.

But whatever the benefits may be, there is another side to the story. There is no escaping the fact that oil and gas development is a heavy industrial activity that poses significant risks to public health and the environment. While much can be done by both government and producers to minimize these risks, there are too many communities where intensive oil and gas drilling is taking place where citizens feel like nothing is being done and no one cares. This is precisely why the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with support from funders such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, is fighting for stricter rules and tougher enforcement.

Mike Bloomberg’s Groundbreaking Use of Public-Private Partnerships

During the Bloomberg Administration, New York City expanded the scope and purpose of private sector collaborations, and improved their effectiveness and management structure, according to a report released today by Freedman Consulting, LLC and Bloomberg Philanthropies at the inaugural Robin Hood Investors Conference in New York City. A dozen non-profit organizations working directly with New York City agencies have raised more than $1.4 billion in philanthropic contributions collectively since 2002.

Hard-Hitting Road Safety Campaigns Help Save Lives

By Elena Altieri, Communications Officer, World Health Organization Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability

In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, motorists cited protection from rain, dust, and even being seen transporting a woman other than one’s wife as benefits of wearing a helmet when driving their motorcycle. A few mentioned escaping fines. Sadly, no one mentioned safety. The fact is: wearing a helmet can decrease the risk of injury by 70% and death by 40%.

One pillar of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program is the development of evidence-based mass media campaigns designed to change attitudes and behavior towards road safety. Developed after extensive research and testing with target audiences, the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program has produced and implemented 19 campaigns, totaling 33 television commercials and 17 radio spots, across 10 countries. In Brazil, Cambodia and Mexico, these hard-hitting campaigns were the first ever public campaigns to show realistic and graphic consequences, including injury and death.

World Polio Day

By Tenley E. Albright, MD, Director of MIT Collaborative Initiatives

There is much to celebrate today in the global fight against polio. But our job is not yet complete.

In the 1950s, 33,000 or more Americans were crippled or killed by polio every year. The last known case in the U.S. was in 1979. When I had polio as a child, there was no cure, no treatment – no one even knew what caused it or how it spread – and certainly there were no vaccines.

Coal on the Decline: 150 Plant Closures and Counting

By Michael R. Bloomberg

The Sierra Club, Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners have reached a big milestone in our campaign to move the United States beyond coal. With the announced retirement of the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts, 150 coal plants, or more than 60,000 megawatts, have either already closed or are on schedule to close. During the last two years, action by hundreds of individual communities, in partnership with the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies, has led us to this key marker—one plant at a time. Coal is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about 40 percent of total U.S. emissions. Retiring much of our existing coal fleet is our best opportunity to lower carbon pollution in the United States. Already, this shift away from coal has helped drive 2012 carbon dioxide emissions in the United States to their lowest level in two decades.

Mike Bloomberg Urges Obama Administration to Avoid a "Colossal Public Health Mistake"

In today’s New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg wrote about his disappointment in the Obama Administration’s decision to weaken tobacco control protections in the latest draft of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement currently being negotiated by the President’s team and 11 other Pacific nations. He wrote, in part:

“[T]the Obama administration appears to be on the verge of bowing to pressure from a powerful special-interest group, the tobacco industry, in a move that would be a colossal public health mistake and potentially contribute to the deaths of tens of millions of people around the world.”

Read the entire piece on The New York Times website.

Would You Smoke These?

By Sarah England, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

If your answer is “no,” you’re not alone. Research shows shocking images that provoke an emotional response are the most effective at motivating smokers to quit. That’s why Bloomberg Philanthropies and our partners work so hard to push governments to make them mandatory on every tobacco product—especially in countries where smoking rates are highest.

As a result of our efforts and those of countless health advocates, Vietnam and Russia (home to 15 and 60 million adult smokers) recently began enforcing regulations that mandate vivid depictions of the negative effects of tobacco on cigarette packs sold throughout those countries.