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Partnership for Healthy Cities Virtually Convenes City Officials from Around the World to Support Coronavirus Response

Convening is latest program of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Coronavirus Response Initiative

NEW YORK — As part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ newly announced Global Coronavirus Response Initiative, more than 65 leaders and technical staff from 31 cities around the world joined the first-ever Partnership for Healthy Cities COVID-19 Response Webinar today. The virtual convening focused on the fundamentals of epidemic preparedness and response, the latest COVID-19 science, and how the Partnership will assist the cities in tackling COVID-19 by providing tools and technical resources geared toward urban contexts. The work complements Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Coronavirus Local Response Initiative, which began convening American mayors two weeks ago.

The Partnership for Healthy Cities, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies, is a network of 70 cities committed to saving lives by preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease and cancer, and injuries. COVID-19 has the potential for rapid spread in urban centers, and many of those at risk for the most severe complications are those with these underlying NCDs. In response, the Partnership is building upon existing relationships with city leaders to respond to this unprecedented global health challenge.

“The Partnership for Healthy Cities initiative has been successful in bringing global cities together to advance public health – and now, in the face of the coronavirus crisis, it is stepping up to help local leaders around the world save even more lives,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City. “Today there are enormous gaps between the support that national governments can provide and what local officials need right away. To help fill those gaps, Bloomberg Philanthropies is expanding our longtime work with global mayors and public health experts. Together, we’ll work to find and implement solutions that can protect people’s health and wellbeing worldwide.”

“Local governments are often the first to respond to public health emergencies, sometimes with wide-ranging responsibilities but often insufficient resources to deal with them,” said Dr. Adam Karpati, Senior Vice President of Public Health Programs at Vital Strategies. “For our partner cities rapidly pivoting to COVID-19 preparedness and response, we want to make sure they have the latest scientific and technical guidance, tailored for urban environments, to protect their populations.”

The assistance to cities in the network will include frequent webinars conducted in English, Spanish and French; technical guidance; connecting member cities with each other to exchange experiences and strategies; and a targeted grant program to support response activities. These grants can cover implementation of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as social distancing measures; legal support on cities’ options in taking public health measures; public communication; and epidemiologic data collection, analysis and reporting.

“COVID-19 is presenting cities around the world with an unprecedented challenge right now,” said Dr. Kelly Henning, who leads the public health program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “With big cities often at the epicenter of COVID-19 in many countries, the urgent actions that mayors take could have outsized impact on the trajectory of COVID-19 in their municipalities and their countries. We want to make sure we can help fill the gaps.”

The webinar was opened by Kelly Larson, who leads the Partnership for Healthy Cities initiative at Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Senior Advisor, Office of the Director-General, World Health Organization. Amanda McClelland, Senior Vice President for the Prevent Epidemics program at Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, provided a situation report on COVID-19 along with an overview of effective pandemic responses. Dan Kass, Senior Vice President for Environmental Health at Vital Strategies, reviewed priority issues that municipal leaders and planners should prepare to address, and Adam Karpati conveyed the specific measures the Partnership will take to assist the cities.

The $40 million Bloomberg Philanthropies Coronavirus Global Response Initiative was announced on March 17. It partners with Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of global health organization Vital Strategies and the World Health Organization, to help lower-income countries and cities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Resolve to Save Lives works with countries to prevent 100 million deaths from cardiovascular disease and to make the world safer from epidemics.

Bloomberg Philanthropies also established the Coronavirus Local Response Initiative earlier this month to help U.S. cities combat the devastating impact of coronavirus on the wellbeing of residents and local economies. The offerings include a program launched in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors that will help cities apply for, receive and deploy federal aid, and monitor expenses while ensuring proper accounting; the COVID-19 Local Action Tracker, created in collaboration with the National League of Cities, which gathers, analyzes and shares the hundreds of policies and actions cities have taken to protect residents; and The Transportation Response Center, in partnership with the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), which is a transportation-focused online resource hub to give mayors, city officials and other practitioners real-time information on the transportation strategies cities are deploying to adapt to the rapidly evolving international health emergency. In addition, Bloomberg Philanthropies has joined forces with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as well as additional researchers and clinicians from across Johns Hopkins University, and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, to provide mayors with the most up-to-date information on the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is to help these city leaders understand how to act on the most critical public health intelligence quickly, efficiently, and reliably for the benefit of their citizens.

Click here to learn more about how Bloomberg Philanthropies is helping in the fight against the coronavirus.


About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in more than 570 cities and over 160 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: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3.3 billion. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitter.

About Vital Strategies:
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

Jean Weinberg, +1-332-201-0508/