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CEO Perspective

Making Public Health a Priority

In Guadalajara, Mexico, streets surrounding El Zalate school were transformed with painted crosswalks and new delineators as part of the city’s Partnership for Healthy Cities-supported Safe Routes to Schools program.

In 2022, Vital Strategies has expanded many of our proven initiatives to new places, together with governments and partners, and has taken on whole new areas of work, enabling people in more than 70 countries to live longer and healthier lives. Our portfolio of work is broad, but a few notable achievements include:

  • Tobacco products kill half of their users, and we have worked for 15+ years to strengthen policies, to hold the tobacco industry accountable and to radically reduce smoking in public places. In 2022, we expanded our work to reach 52 million people in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine, together with U.S. CDC, and we supported 14 national and subnational policy wins in Türkiye, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries where we have worked with government and civil society for many years.
  • In 2022, Vital expanded its drug overdose prevention work to more U.S. states, and helped advance progress on policies in Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, to promote harm reduction instead of the criminalization of drug use. More than 107,000 people in the U.S. died of overdose in 2021, in what has become a national crisis.
  • Vital launched RESET Alcohol, a groundbreaking new initiative to strengthen global alcohol policy and address the harms of alcohol consumption. Despite glamorization from marketing, alcohol contributes to millions of deaths each year and has negative social and economic effects on individuals, families and communities.
  • Our Data for Health program worked with governments in 59 countries to increase the number of people whose lives are counted. By increasing birth and death registration, countries gain critical information about the health of their populations and where to invest; registration also provides basic legal rights to people who now have proof of their identity. This year our work also included gender equity projects for LGBTI+ populations in Kenya, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bulgaria.

This year marked a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic, with improvements in vaccination rates and treatment options. But noncommunicable diseases—heart disease, cancer, diabetes and others—remain the leading causes of death around the world. Investment in policies that are proven to prevent NCDs remains weak, but we are committed to continuing to press for policies that reduce the harms of NCD drivers such as tobacco, ultra-processed foods and alcohol.

In 2023, we will continue our work to make public health a priority across sectors. Stronger, robust health systems and healthier people will be essential if the world is to withstand the next big threat, whether that comes from viruses, political instability, climate change or some other source.

I am immensely proud of our accomplishments throughout 2022—see below for some key numbers that illustrate our 2022 work. We’ve also curated photos highlighting our work throughout the year here, and you can see a collection of our top Vital Stories blogs from 2022 here.

With strong technical talent, a collaborative and engaged network, and values that keep us focused and nimble, we are poised to address the challenges in 2023 and beyond.

José Luis Castro
President and Chief Executive Officer

2022: Our Year in Photos

Vital created the first ever traveling memorial commemorating people who have died of drug overdose in the United States. Overdose deaths in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 107,000 in 2021. For International Overdose Awareness Day, Vital joined advocates to unveil the first installation of the memorial at the Newark Public Library.

As the year comes to an end, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite photos highlighting work from across our programs, including the first ever traveling memorial to people who have died of drug overdose in the U.S.

See more photos of our work in our Vital Stories blog.

We’ve also curated a list of our top Vital Stories blogs from throughout 2022.

Highlights from our work in 2022

We’re more committed than ever to building equitable and effective public health systems for all. Here is a look at some of our key achievements from our programs over the past year.

From our staff

We asked our staff to send in a short video of what brought them happiness in 2022 and compiled this video.