A $32.8 million donation, the largest gift received by Howard University’s College of Medicine, will ease student loan debt and “produce more Black doctors,” officials announced this week.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, founded by former New York mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, has donated $100 million to support scholarships at four historically Black medical schools — Howard’s College of Medicine; Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles; Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta; and Meharry Medical College in Nashville. The gift will be awarded over the next four years.

Wayne A.I. Frederick, Howard’s president, said the gift can help the school continue to address disparities in the medical field.

“Healthcare disparities exist for a myriad of reasons related to systemic infrastructural issues, not the least of which is the dearth of black doctors,” Frederick said in a statement. “Black doctors with cultural competency are a major part of the solution, but their path is often hampered by a compromised financial situation.”

The gift comes at a time when Black patients are at a higher risk than White people of dying of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. And research suggests Black people have better health outcomes when treated by Black doctors. A recent study indicated Black babies are more likely to survive childbirth when treated by Black doctors.

But just 5 percent of practicing physicians in the United States are Black, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“Covid-19 has been especially devastating for the Black community, and the scarcity of Black doctors practicing in Black communities is one reason for it,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “More Black doctors will mean more Black lives saved and fewer health problems that limit economic opportunity.”

The Bloomberg gift will allow Howard to provide more scholarships, officials said. Tuition for first-year Howard medical students is more than $46,000. Lab, uniform, technology and other fees push the cost of attendance to upward of $80,000.

“Instead of carrying the burden of thousands of dollars in debt, they will now be able to focus on practicing their craft and fulfilling their purpose,” medical school Dean Hugh E. Mighty said in a statement. “For many students, less debt may create an opportunity to pick a specialty based more on interest and less on which specialties yield high incomes.”

The College of Medicine will award scholarships up to $100,000 over four years for first-year students. Second-, third- and fourth-year students will receive retroactive support, according to a statement from the university.

“This gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies is the first stone dropped into a calm lake of opportunity and promise,” Frederick said. “The ripple effects that it will have on the lives of our students and our programs will carry on for generations.”