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The former CDC director and a who’s-who of high-profile billionaires have set their sights on an ambitious goal: to save 100 million lives.

The Resolve Initiative is the name of the new undertaking, to be led by Tom Frieden, the immediate past director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its aim is twofold: to prevent heart attacks and strokes through promotion of health, and to bolster the preparedness and response to future epidemics.

Frieden will be backed by $225 million from the philanthropies of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, and former Microsoft leaders Bill and Melinda Gates.

The planned coordination will extend from Frieden’s New York-based organization Vital Strategies, to established networks: the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, the CDC Foundation, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The Resolve Initiative is made up of two parts: the “Resolve – to Save 100 Million Lives” program, and the “Resolve – To Prevent Epidemics” undertaking.

The former expects to curb cardiovascular disease and its 18 million annual deaths through promotion of health preventions: lowering blood pressure, reducing sodium intake, and eliminating artificial trans fats. (Such an undertaking would echo some of the dietary rules and restrictions pushed during Bloomberg’s time as New York Mayor, especially the elimination of trans fats in restaurants and the “soda ban” that drew widespread opposition in 2013).

The latter aims to curb infectious disease outbreaks. Fifty countries have already completed Joint External Evaluation (JEE) assessments to prepare for future epidemics, a regimen established by the WHO in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreaks several years ago.

“Resolve – To Prevent Epidemics” intends to assist poorer nations with their JEEs, to establish functional preparedness programs.

Frieden, who led the CDC from 2009 to 2017, oversaw the U.S. response to the Ebola epidemic. In an interview with STAT this week, he explained how the NGO found its target objectives.

“With the vantage point I have from the past eight years at CDC and the past 20 years working in global health, I identified specific areas where the world is at a tipping point,” Frieden said. “And with strategic investments we can make an enormous difference saving lives. And that’s how we designed this.”

Frieden further explained that hypertension is the world’ leading cause of death, taking some 10 million lives per year – and that mortality could be sharply reduced through blood-pressure control and dietary changes.

Bloomberg, who is also a WHO global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases, pointed to Frieden’s time as the New York City Health Commissioner from 2002 to 2009, which brought “unprecedented gains in life expectancy in New York.”

“He’s the perfect person to lead this global effort… We know what measures are proven to help reduce sickness and death from cardiovascular diseases,” said Bloomberg. “Every step we take to spread those measures will make a difference. Saving 100 million lives would be an extraordinary achievement – and it’s within our reach.”

Gates, whose foundation is known mostly for its efforts in impoverished countries, said the new effort could complement their work with malaria and contraception in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia.

“While our foundation typically focuses on infectious disease because they disproportionately affect the world’s poorest, we are increasingly concerned about the growing rate of cardiovascular disease in low- and middle-income countries,” said Gates.

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