WHO Global Ambassador

Mike Bloomberg’s sustained philanthropic giving to public health initiatives and his success increasing New Yorkers’ life expectancy during his time as Mayor led to his appointment as World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and Injuries from August 2016 to November 2019.  NCDs and injuries are the cause of 45 million deaths per year. While NCDs account for two-thirds of deaths in low- and middle-income countries, only 2% of global health funding goes towards addressing these challenges – a massive disparity.

The Global Ambassador aimed to increase global awareness of the burden of NCDs and injuries and support the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals around NCDs and injuries which are:

  • Halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020
  • Reduce by one-third premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by 2030

To further these ambitious goals, Mike  launched two initiatives – the Partnership for Healthy Cities and the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health – to engage political, economic, and health leaders to promote health policy and implement proven interventions that will reduce these NCDs and injuries.

Partnership for Healthy Cities

The Partnership for Healthy Cities is a prestigious global network of cities committed to saving lives by preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies, this initiative supports cities around the world to deliver high-impact policy and/or programmatic interventions to reduce NCD risk factors in their communities. Learn more about the Partnership here.

Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health

The Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health – co-chaired by Mike Bloomberg and economist Larry Summers, former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and former Director of the National Economic Council – brought together esteemed fiscal policy, development and health leaders from around the globe to address the enormous and growing health and economic burden of noncommunicable diseases – including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – with fiscal policy tools that are currently underutilized by governments and their leaders.

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death in the world, killing 40 million people each year and representing 70 percent of all annual deaths. Eighty percent of NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, straining health care systems, contributing to poverty and posing a major barrier to development. Tobacco use, obesity and risky alcohol consumption are three leading risk factors for the development of NCDs. Ministers of Finance control a powerful tool to reduce the harmful use of these products: tax policy.

This Task Force examined the evidence on excise tax policy for health, including barriers to implementation, and made recommendations on how countries can best leverage fiscal policies to yield improved health outcomes for their citizens with the added benefit of bringing in additional revenue. Smart fiscal policy can save lives and help economies.

In April 2019, the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health released the “Health Taxes to Save Lives” report,

calling on all countries to significantly raise their excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverages. An analysis conducted for the Task Force estimated that over 50 million premature deaths could be prevented if countries implemented excise tax increases large enough to raise product prices of tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverages by 50 percent over the next 50 years. The Task Force-commissioned analysis found that the impact of these taxes, projected to yield over US$20 trillion in revenue, would be highest in low- and middle-income countries, where consumption and associated healthcare costs and productivity losses are growing.

After reviewing the evidence, the Task Force concluded that few interventions have the power to save as many lives as raising tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverage taxes. And, while secondary to the health gains, the additional revenue that can be obtained from such tax increases is substantial.


READ the Report: Health Taxes to Save Lives: Employing Effective Excise Taxes on Tobacco, Alcohol, and Sugary Beverages


Supporting Materials:


Members of the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health:

  • Michael R. Bloomberg, Co-Chair
  • Lawrence H. Summers, Co-Chair
  • Masood Ahmed, President, Center for Global Development
  • Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Former Central Bank Governor
  • Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics, Cornell University
  • Helen Clark, Former UNDP Administrator; Former Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • Margaret Chan, Former Director General, WHO
  • Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services, Norway
  • Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Indonesia
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Former Minister of Finance, Nigeria
  • Zhu Min, Director, National Institute of Financial Research, Tsinghua University, China
  • Mauricio Cardenas, Minister of Finance, Colombia
  • Minouche Shafik, Director, London School of Economics
  • Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland
  • Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay