Bloomberg launches $40m COVID-19 response initiative for developing countries

20 Mar 2020
Financial Nigeria


The $40 million Coronavirus Global Response Initiative will fund rapid response teams in low- and middle-income countries.

Michael Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched a $40 million COVID-19 coronavirus initiative to support immediate actions to prevent or slow the spread of the highly contagious disease in low- and middle-income countries. The American organisation, in a statement released on Thursday, said it will partner with the global health organisation, Vital Strategies, along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on COVID-19 response efforts.

The $40 million Coronavirus Global Response Initiative will fund rapid response teams in low- and middle-income countries. These include teams that will be 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 acceptance and impact of containment strategies through rapid mobile phone surveys; provide communications support such as public education campaigns; and provide technical expertise to global and regional health organisations.

The charitable organisation, founded by businessman and former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, said its efforts will complement those by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Last month, the Gates Foundation announced a $100 million commitment to the COVID-19 response. In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies, which invests in more than 570 cities and over 160 countries around the world, said it distributed $3.3 billion.

"Millions of lives depend on getting the coronavirus response right – and so does the economic and social health of communities around the world. We need to slow transmission of the virus and minimize the impact of the outbreak in all countries," said Bloomberg. "As we launch the Coronavirus Local Response Initiative this week here in the U.S., we also are creating a new effort to prevent its spread globally, particularly in Africa.”

Last week, WHO declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. As of 9:00 GMT on March 20, there were 246,774 cases globally, with 10,062 deaths reported. 12 cases were reported in Nigeria on Thursday, and 150 in South Africa. According to Bloomberg Philanthropies, the coronavirus response initiative will have a strong focus on Africa but will also extend beyond to support the mayors and city governments around the world.

"An unprecedented global health crisis demands unprecedented global solidarity," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "I appreciate this support from Bloomberg Philanthropies to WHO and the global response effort, which will help to prevent infections and save lives."

The initiative was announced a few days after Bloomberg launched a programme to help American mayors improve their coronavirus response. The United States has recorded 14,366 cases and 217 deaths as of today. The American Coronavirus Local Response Initiative brings together more than 180 cities who join experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative to receive up-to-date information on the virus and crisis coaching to manage the public health pandemic.

"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 Dr. Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. "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."

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