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Dr. Tom Frieden to Lead New Global Health Initiative, Backed by $225 Million in Funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Resolve – To Save 100 Million Lives and Prevent Epidemics – is a five-year initiative to accelerate progress in reducing deaths from heart attack and stroke and to prevent deadly epidemics in low- and middle-income countries

SEPTEMBER 12, 2017, NY, USA – Resolve, a groundbreaking $225 million global health initiative and the first to be funded by three leading philanthropies – Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – launches today under the leadership of Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former commissioner of the New York City (NYC) Health Department. The initiative aims to save more than 100 million lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes and will help countries close life-threatening gaps in epidemic preparedness and response. It will be implemented by a team of global health experts at Vital Strategies, a New York-based global health organization that works in more than 60 countries.

In addition to the support and technical assistance to be provided by Vital Strategies, Resolve will support and work closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), Bloomberg School of Public Health at The Johns Hopkins University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The World Bank and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“The world’s leading cause of death is largely preventable, and we can’t sit back while people suffer needlessly,” said Michael Bloomberg, businessman, philanthropist, former Mayor of New York City and WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs). “We know what measures are proven to help reduce sickness and death from cardiovascular diseases. Every step we take to spread those measures will make a difference. Saving 100 million lives would be an extraordinary achievement – and it’s within our reach. Tom Frieden helped us make unprecedented gains in life expectancy in New York, and he’s the perfect person to lead this global effort.”

“There are proven strategies every country can use to prevent deaths from heart disease, stroke, and epidemics – but progress has been painfully slow,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve, which will be housed at Vital Strategies. “I am deeply grateful to Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting efforts that aim to save more than 100 million lives. Heart attacks and strokes are the world’s leading killers – including of working-age adults. Lessons learned during the Ebola epidemic can reduce the risk of future epidemics. Each intervention is at a tipping point, and these investments will tip the scales in favor of saving lives and protecting health.”

“Dr. Frieden has dedicated his career to improving health and fighting disease in communities around the globe,” said Dr. Priscilla Chan, pediatrician and co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “His leadership in response to several global health crises, including the Ebola epidemic, was critical to preventing the further spread of those diseases. Under Tom Frieden’s direction, the Resolve initiative will help give countries the tools they need to quickly identify and respond to new health threats. To ensure that millions of people around the world have access to equal opportunity, we need to tackle the threat of epidemics — that’s what Resolve aims to do, and it’s why we’re supporting this effort.”

“While our foundation typically focuses on infectious diseases because they disproportionately affect the world’s poorest, we are increasingly concerned about the growing rate of cardiovascular disease in low- and middle-income countries,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “That’s why we are joining forces with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Bloomberg Philanthropies to support the work of Dr. Frieden and his team to tackle these twin threats to public health.”

José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vital Strategies, commented: “We are honored that this new initiative is being housed in Vital Strategies. Resolve’s mission is a perfect fit with our expertise of building and strategically utilizing public health intelligence, mounting strategic communication programs to shape the public health agenda and change behavior, and strengthening critical public health systems. We look forward to working closely with Dr. Frieden in the years ahead to save millions of people from preventable disease, disability and premature death.”

The Resolve initiative consists of two programs: Resolve – To Save 100 Million Lives, and Resolve – To Prevent Epidemics. Across both programs, the Resolve initiative will employ best practice approaches to monitoring the extent of the problem and progress made, improving the global evidence base, and providing examples for other countries to follow, amplifying the overall impact of the project.

Resolve – To Save 100 Million Lives

Cardiovascular disease (CVD – heart disease and stroke) kills 18 million people every year. High blood pressure alone is the world’s leading cause of death, killing 10 million people every year, more than from all infectious diseases combined. Less than one (1) percent of the $35 billion spent annually on global health assistance is directed at preventing cardiovascular disease. Strategic investment in three key areas — increasing global control of blood pressure, sodium reduction, and eliminating artificial trans fats — could deliver rapid progress and help to prevent 100 million deaths from heart disease and stroke. The health care savings from effective management of blood pressure alone have been estimated to be US$100 billion per year.

Resolve – To Prevent Epidemics

It’s not a matter of “if” the next infectious disease outbreak will happen, but “when.” Every country needs the ability to prevent, detect, and respond to disease threats. Toward this end, more than 50 countries have completed Joint External Evaluation (JEE) assessments, a tool that was established and adopted by the WHO following the Ebola epidemic. Through a rigorous, objective accountability framework, JEEs have identified life-threatening public health gaps in dozens of countries which could be addressed by government action.

Resolve will help governments in low- and middle income countries move from JEE assessments to funded, implemented, and sustained programs to make their countries, their regions, and the world safer from epidemics. The focus will be on four key areas to improve capacity and preparedness:

  • Implement and strengthen disease tracking systems – so that unusual events are noticed and investigated.
  • Support laboratory networks – so that new and emerging threats are identified promptly.
  • Develop and support “disease detectives” – epidemiologists to track and investigate diseases and outbreaks.
  • Develop rapid response teams – to investigate and stop outbreaks, working out of functional emergency operations centers which operate under structured, effective incident management systems.

More information about Resolve is available at

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 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 over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
The Chan Zuckerberg (CZI) Initiative was launched in December 2015 by Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician and founder and CEO of The Primary School in East Palo Alto. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a new kind of philanthropic organization dedicated to advancing human potential and promoting equal opportunity through world class engineering, grantmaking, impact investing, policy, and advocacy work. Initial areas of focus include supporting science through basic biomedical research and education through personalized learning. CZI is also exploring ways to build stronger, more equitable communities through affordable housing and criminal justice reform.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. The Vital Strategies team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

About Dr. Tom Frieden

Dr. Frieden was Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2009 to 2017, and led the CDC work that helped end the Ebola epidemic. Over the course of his career, he controlled the largest outbreak of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis ever to occur in the United States and helped establish the largest tuberculosis control program in the world in India.
Because of his leadership at CDC, Americans are safer from antibiotic resistance, foodborne and healthcare-associated infections, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and exposure to dangerous pathogens. During his time as New York City Health Commissioner, life expectancy in New York City increased by three years, a faster increase than in the United States as a whole. Dr. Frieden also designed Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, a program that has so far supported policies which have saved 30 million lives, with much more life-saving potential ahead.

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