Message from José Luis Castro
Health, for Everyone, by Everyone
Like much of the world, Vital Strategies entered 2021 with the hope that COVID-19 vaccines and the lessons of 2020 would bring an end to the worst of this pandemic. Unfortunately, the virus continues to defy predictions and challenge assumptions.
This has made Vital Strategies’ expansive mission more critical than over. Over these past two years, we have kept moving, responding to COVID-19 and tackling our longstanding priorities. We have worked with partners around the world to provide 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.
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.
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.
The millions killed and economies damaged by COVID-19 weren’t inevitable. 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. 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.
Vital strategies was created out of a dream for a healthier world. We look to 2022 with a renewed sense of purpose. We commit to building a future where the protections of public health are better understood and supported, a future where health is for everyone, by everyone.
José Luis Castro
President and CEO