Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City has been named the 2007 recipient of the Julius B. Richmond Award, the highest honor given by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).
With a series of bold initiatives that recognize public health as a core municipal responsibility and opportunity, Bloomberg has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in protecting and promoting the health of New York City’s residents, according to the School. Operating at the level of government where public health knowledge can be translated into practices that directly affect entire communities, Bloomberg has utilized city regulatory authority and communications campaigns through the City Health Department to mount highly visible and successful efforts at both improving the health and safety of the environment in which New Yorkers live and supporting community-based actions that promote individual behavior change for healthier living. His public health initiatives, in the world’s highest-profile city, have emboldened public health efforts in other municipalities both here and abroad.
From restaurants to school yards to streets, Bloomberg has impacted the health of millions of citizens with initiatives on issues including tobacco use, gun violence, and unhealthy fats. He has been especially mindful of reducing the disparities in health status that separate various communities in the five boroughs in the “Take Care New York” program to reduce preventable illness and death.
The Richmond Award recognizes those who carry forth the vision of former U.S. Surgeon General and Harvard Professor Emeritus Julius B. Richmond, who provided innovative leadership to protect vulnerable populations, children, and all Americans. He issued the momentous Report on Tobacco that changed U.S. policies, set targets for the health of the American public with Healthy People 2000, and was the first national director of the Head Start program.
“From his position as mayor of one of the world’s greatest cities, Michael Bloomberg has exhibited courageous leadership in championing and implementing a series of public health initiatives that will have a positive impact on millions of New York’s citizens’ lives,” said HSPH Dean Barry R. Bloom. “He is demonstrating every day how public health knowledge and evidence can be brought to his communities so that all may live their lives to the fullest potential. He exemplifies the understanding that the health of a city is related not only to its fiscal health but also to the health of its citizens and their ability to contribute to the life of the city.”
Among Bloomberg’s public health accomplishments:
n Led the successful ban of smoking in New York City bars and restaurants, which along with high taxes on cigarettes, workplace smoking limits, and $10 million in anti-smoking TV ads, created the sharpest drop in smokers since record keeping began in 1993
n Made New York the first city in the nation to ban dangerous trans fats in restaurant food (2006)
n Joined with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to create a coalition of mayors to keep illegal guns off the streets and press for repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment that restricts local law enforcement’s access to gun tracking data
n Created Opportunity NYC, the nation’s first “conditional cash transfer” program for children, adults, and families living in poverty. Privately funded pilot programs award cash incentives to individuals who meet conditions, such as school attendance, aimed at improving education, health, and workforce outcomes
n Sharply increased demand for free condoms by branding them with the official New York City logo, distributing 18 million to combat sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS
Recently Bloomberg has made a commitment to create an environmentally sustainable city by 2025, which puts him at the forefront of efforts to curtail environmental pollutants that threaten people’s health and the health of the planet. His efforts in this area have included negotiations to introduce congestion pricing in New York, which would reduce traffic by charging a fee to people who drive into the busiest parts of Manhattan. His commitment to public health has extended from his civic role to a personal philanthropic commitment to education and research in public health. A native of Medford, Mass., he received his undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Past recipients of the Julius B. Richmond Award include William H. Foege, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control; Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Kenneth Olden, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; and environmental activist Erin Brockovich-Ellis.
Bloomberg and Richmond will address the Harvard community at a lecture and award ceremony sponsored by the HSPH Division of Public Health Practice and the Office of the Dean, on Oct. 29 from 4:30 to 6 p.m., at the conference center at Harvard Medical School.
Members of the Harvard community wishing to attend need to RSVP to Megan Casey McGrath at firstname.lastname@example.org. This event is not open to the public.