Tags: Ebola Outbreak | Health Topics | Michael Bloomberg | collect | health | data

Michael Bloomberg Backs Project to Collect Foreign Health Data

By    |   Monday, 23 March 2015 08:39 PM

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is backing a new project that will collect basic health data for countries in Africa, southeast Asia, and Latin America.

Bloomberg's foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, is partnering with the Australian government on the four-year project. It will cost $100 million and focus on 20 countries.

The project's goal is to help gather information regarding births and deaths, along with risk factors that lead to premature deaths.

According to a press release on the foundation's website, 35 million deaths every year — 65 percent of all worldwide deaths — are not reported. Further, the foundation says that "millions more [deaths] lack a documented cause."

Called the Data for Health Initiative, the program will help provide better reporting tools to healthcare organizations, local governments, and aid organizations.

"Reliable data is absolutely essential to problem solving, and nowhere is it more important than in public health," Bloomberg said in the release. "This new program will greatly enhance our understanding of the public health challenges we face — and greatly improve our ability to address them. We've set an ambitious goal, and working together with the Australian government, we believe we can meet it."

Other supporting partners of the program include the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the CDC Foundation, the University of Melbourne Australia, and Union North America, a healthcare advocacy group.

Implementing better tools for conducting public health surveys will lead to better tracking of risk factors that lead to early deaths, the release asserts.

"With information from these surveys, illness caused by day-to-day behaviors such as tobacco use and poor nutrition habits can be targeted, addressed, and prevented," the release reads.

Julie Bishop MP, Australia's minister for foreign affairs, said the absence of solid, accurate public health data is one of the "world's most daunting problems."

"Australia's partnership on Data for Health coincides with the launch of innovationXchange, a new initiative to embrace exploration, experimentation, and risk through a focus on innovation," Bishop said. "Greater innovation in development assistance will allow us to do a better job of tackling the world's most daunting problems, such as a lack of credible health data."

One of the larger public health stories in recent memory is the Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 10,000 people. Most of the deaths have occurred in western Africa, where the outbreak of the virus is centered.

The United Nations predicted Monday that the outbreak will be over by August.

"We have been running away from giving any specific date, but I am pretty sure myself that it will be gone by the summer," said Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, head of the U.N. Ebola mission.

On Bloomberg's last day in office as mayor of the Big Apple at the end of 2013, he signed 22 bills into law — including one that banned electronic cigarettes in places where smoking traditional cigarettes is not allowed.

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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is backing a new project that will collect basic health data for countries in Africa, southeast Asia, and Latin America.
Michael Bloomberg, collect, health, data
Monday, 23 March 2015 08:39 PM
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