Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $40 million commitment in support of immediate action in vulnerable low- and middle-income countries aimed at preventing and slowing the global spread of COVID-19.
Launched in partnership with Vital Strategies and the World Health Organization, the Bloomberg Philanthropies Coronavirus Global Response Initiative will fund rapid response teams that are deployed to prevent and detect infection; train frontline healthcare workers in infection prevention and control; develop lab networks to manage and transport specimens to central laboratories for COVID-19 diagnosis; measure the impact of containment strategies such as school and church closures and cancellation of mass gatherings through rapid mobile phone surveys; provide support for public education campaigns; and provide technical expertise to global and regional health organizations.
The effort will be led by Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies that works with national governments to prevent and reduce deaths in epidemic situations. A former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Frieden served as commissioner of the New York City Health Department during Michael R. Bloomberg's first two terms as mayor. While the focus will be on African nations, the initiative will extend support to mayors and municipal governments that are part of Bloomberg Philanthropies' seventy-city Partnership for Healthy Cities, which was launched in 2017 in partnership with WHO and Vital Strategies.
The foundation also announced that its Coronavirus Local Response Initiative — an effort launched last week in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative to help American mayors respond to the rapidly evolving pandemic — will hold its first virtual convening on Thursday. At the convening, more than a hundred and eighty cities will receive up-to-date information on the virus as well as expert advice designed to help them manage the public health crisis. In the coming weeks, the initiative will hold a series of virtual convenings to provide city leaders with technical assistance, coaching, and opportunities to share emerging practices with those on the frontlines of the emergency.
"We have a window of time to partner with ministries of health in sub-Saharan Africa to protect their population from a disease that could kill through both infections and disruption of health services," said Frieden. "From Ebola to H1N1, we now know more than ever how to minimize the risk of epidemics, especially in low- and middle-income countries. With Mayor Bloomberg's support, we can help mitigate the worst effects of coronavirus in Africa."
(Photo credit: Vital Strategies)