Skip to main content

WHO Global Ambassador Michael R. Bloomberg Launches Worldwide Effort to Fight Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Respiratory Diseases and Injuries

Global ‘Partnership for Healthy Cities’ aims to reduce noncommunicable diseases and injuries, sources of 80 percent of deaths worldwide

Joined by mayors from 40 cities, World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today launched the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a global network formed to reduce NCDs and injuries with proven policies to advance health and strengthen economies.

NCDs – including heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, respiratory diseases and others – and injuries such as road-traffic crashes are the often-ignored killers of 44 million people globally each year. Although NCDs are responsible for 67 percent deaths in low-and-middle-income countries and account for trillions in economic losses, they receive only one percent of total development assistance for health.

“Injuries and noncommunicable diseases are responsible for eight in 10 deaths globally, but small changes at the community level can save many of those lives,” Bloomberg said. “The Partnership for Healthy Cities unites cities whose mayors are committed to healthier lives for their citizens and to leading the charge globally to reduce NCDs and injuries. The actions of these mayors can prevent millions of needless deaths and protect the health of generations to come, while making our cities more prosperous.”

With the majority of the world’s population now living in urban settings, cities and their leaders are uniquely positioned to transform the fight against NCDs and injuries by implementing evidence-based policies that reduce exposure to risk factors, improve the health of citizens and prepare cities to thrive in the 21st century. Effective policies at the city level will also help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including improving health and creating safer, more sustainable cities.

“The choices people can make to improve their health are increasingly being compromised by the environments in which they live,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. “Unhealthy food high in salt, sugar and fats are widely available in stores and restaurants, fanning global epidemics of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Poor air quality and tobacco use, including second-hand smoke, sicken and kill many millions every year. On our roads, the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers is being threatened by inadequate laws and their enforcement, and poor quality infrastructure and vehicles.

“Mayors and other local leaders have the power to make changes to protect their citizens from such risks. Millions of lives can be saved from cancers and heart and lung diseases by making food and opportunities for physical activity more available, public and workplaces smoke-free, and by banning all forms of tobacco advertisement. Making our roads safer can prevent many lives being lost in crashes. Safe roads that include, for example, designated spaces for pedestrians and cyclists, promote physical activity.”

Over the next 18 months, participating cities will work with Bloomberg Philanthropies and technical experts including WHO and Vital Strategies to implement one of 10 evidence-based policy interventions, including creating a smoke-free city, banning tobacco advertising and reducing road crash deaths by lowering speed limits.  Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $5 million USD in seed grants, as well as advice and help from public health experts, to support committed cities in developing and implementing policies to address NCDs and injuries. As part of the Partnership, cities also have access to a global network of mayors, which will improve collaborations and the sharing of good practices and lessons learned.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has been battling NCDs since 2007. Prior to that, during Michael Bloomberg’s time as mayor, New Yorkers saw a three-year increase in life expectancy thanks, in part, to policies that address NCDs and put people’s health first. From its work across issue areas, Bloomberg Philanthropies knows forward-thinking mayors who embrace strong, evidence-based policies have the power to solve some of today’s foremost health and environmental challenges.

The partnership launched today with 40 cities, including Accra, Addis Ababa, Ahmedabad, Almaty, Amman, Bandung, Bangalore, Bogotá, Boston, Cali, Cape Town, Chicago, Dhaka, Fortaleza, Guadalajara, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Kampala, Kathmandu, Kiev, Kuala Lumpur, León, London, Medellín, Melbourne, Mexico City, Montevideo, Mumbai, Philadelphia, Quezon City, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Tianjin, Toronto and Ulaanbaatar. Additional cities will be added in the coming months.

For more information, visit:


Mayors from participating cities released the following statements in conjunction with today’s announcement:

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Mayor Diriba Kuma
“I am proud to join the efforts to build healthier cities by reducing road injuries. Dangerous behaviors like speeding and drink driving are growing here, but road trauma is not inevitable. With improved road safety, pursued as part of the Partnership for Healthy Cities, we can prevent it – and for the sake of our city’s future, we must.”

Boston, U.S.A. – Mayor Marty J. Walsh
“Working to allow Boston’s children to live happy, active and healthy lives is a top priority. We want to give more students the opportunity to safely walk to school and reap important health benefits. I’m pleased to join Mayor Bloomberg in this global effort to create these safe environments for our kids, and view this as another opportunity for Boston to lead by example.”

Guadalajara, Mexico – Mayor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez
“Guadalajara is proud to join this global network of cities working to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases and injuries and create stronger, healthier communities. We look forward to collaborating with Michael Bloomberg and mayors around the world to not only save, but ultimately improve, our citizens’ lives.”

Fortaleza, Brazil – Mayor Roberto Claudio Rodrigues Bezerra
“We understand that this is a great opportunity to build healthier cities and, here in Fortaleza, we want to further advance to consolidate an urban design that encourages the practice of physical activities combined with road safety. We are convinced that this network of cities will strengthen the process of transformation on a global scale.”


Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter.