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CEO Perspective

A Future for Public Health, Reimagined

Vital Strategies was created out of a dream for a healthier world.

Our ambitious vision—a world where everyone is protected by equitable and effective public health systems—propelled us from a kernel of an idea to nearly 20 years of rapid growth as an organization. We have worked with partners around the world to provide our technical assistance across a range of public health challenges, such as smoking, unhealthy food, road crashes, drug overdose, and the health effects of climate change.

Today, Vital Strategies is announcing a new tag line: Reimagine Public Health. This determined optimism is a clarion call for a bolder, better and more equitable approach to health in a world reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when health departments around the world are in crisis and public health remains underfunded and under threat, Reimagine Public Health seeks to mobilize a movement that champions the importance and relevance of public health in our everyday lives and restores trust in these essential institutions and people. Reimagine commits Vital Strategies to building a future where the many facets of public health, and the protections it can afford, are better understood and supported. It’s a fresh representation of our longstanding vision and a reminder that everything that surrounds us—from the air we breathe to the roads we cross—shapes health and safety and cannot be taken for granted.

We must also recognize that public health is for everyone, by everyone.

José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies

In 2020, public health became much more visible in our daily lives. Family members, neighbors and friends navigated through the pandemic with public health recommendations providing a road map. And while COVID-19 has revealed deep cracks and divisions, it has also demonstrated that strong public health systems are crucial to our very survival.

The millions killed and economies damaged by COVID-19 weren’t inevitable, as we write in Devex. They were caused by a dangerous lack of investment in health, by inequities related to the color of people’s skin and the places where they live, and by leadership across the world that elevates politics over science.

The future of public health demands that we stop looking for siloed, single-issue solutions. As we look beyond COVID-19, we need to reimagine public health as more interconnected. Whether the issue is air quality, transport, food, tobacco, drug use or infectious disease, we have to think more broadly about the connections that make a healthy society. By working across sectors, we can leverage public health to drive policy changes in systems outside the span of public health control—transportation, energy, finance, development and education—to make wider and more lasting change that protects everyone, everywhere.

We must also recognize that public health is for everyone, by everyone. Good health is shaped by a society that promotes nutritious and healthy foods, implements smoke-free areas, makes streets livable and safe for all, and does so much more to enhance the quality and length of people’s lives and address the myriad health problems exacerbated by bias and inequity. This means reimagining how global health organizations engage in the cities and countries in which they work—partnering with all levels of government and other sectors, such as education and housing, where good health is rooted. It means working together with the people most affected by health disparities to shape the policies needed to ease their disproportionate health burdens.

It is our hope that out of this crisis, the world will see the value of investing in public health and see how much progress we can make on what may seem like insurmountable challenges, if we only have the will to do it. I am moved by the fortitude and resilience of our staff, our donors, our partners, and public health champions—the world’s unsung heroes—as we envision the future. Let’s not lose the moment.

As we set forth on this campaign, we call on partners and colleagues throughout the world to join us.

It’s time we reimagine public health.

Will you join us?

José Luis Castro

President and CEO, Vital Strategies