Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York City has been known to be an outspoken speaker for health. A few years ago he fought for a ban on the sale of large sodas and other unhealthy drinks. He has also imposed bans on smoking in restaurants and bars while being mayor of New York City.
Last year he was appointed as the global ambassador for non-communicable diseases for the WHO (World Health Organization). Now the eighth richest person in the world is spreading his philosophy on health as well as some of his money to 40 cities around the world.
Taken up so far by 40 cities around the world he offered $5 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies along with technical support for cities that focused on several health and lifestyle issues such as curbing the consumption of unhealthy sugary drinks like soda, promotion of exercise, smoking bans, and air pollution. These cities include first world cities like Melbourne and California, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Accra in Ghana, Katmandu in Nepal, Kampala in Uganda, Medellin in Colombia amongst many others.
Bloomberg believes that the problems are in the cities and the solutions are also in the cities. He states, “Cities are where the rubber meets the road.” The majority of people today live in cities and it is expected that city populations will rise up to 70% in the next few years.
Bloomberg believes that the war on sugar and tobacco is now being won. The ante-smoking campaign has risen in recent years and has reduced tobacco consumption in Western Europe, the Americas and China. However, he says that many people in less affluent areas of the world are still smoking and will likely die young. He states that we must keep the battle going.
Right now his main focus is on non-communicable diseases as well as pollution, cigarette smoking, alcohol and unhealthy food. Most cities in impoverished countries argue that they don’t have time for all these issues since they have far more important problems to solve. However Bloomberg argues that poverty, health, and education are all inter-connected.
Those cities that are involved with Bloomberg’s partnership can choose between several issues. They include the curbing of the consumption of sugary drinks like soda, smoking bans, less use of salt in food, use of clean fuels that are better for the environment, encouragement of activities like walking and cycling, reducing speeding, increased use of seatbelts and helmets, drunk driving and carrying out surveys that will collect data on the health and lifestyle risks the city has.
As of now there are about 40 cities who have agreed with Bloomberg’s plan and it is expected that there will be more in the future.