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“Cities are already using the momentum of their pandemic response to embrace new opportunities for healthier, more sustainable systems and behaviors”

Statement from José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer at Vital Strategies, on October 31, 2020, World Cities Day:

“With over half the people on the globe currently living in cities, urbanization has become a determinant for health in its own right. Cities are places where health can be produced or compromised—and the outsized impact of COVID-19 on cities has forced us to confront this fact with new urgency. City leaders entered the COVID-19 era, in many cases, without a playbook. They have nevertheless risen to the challenge and continue to make incredibly difficult decisions to protect people’s health, while maintaining economic stability and social cohesion.

The Partnership for Healthy Cities—supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies—supports 70 cities to make rapid progress against injuries and noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and cancer. As of March 2020, the Partnership expanded to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In providing over $1 million in financial assistance and access to leading technical experts, urban practitioners across the globe have successfully launched critical risk communication campaigns, built or streamlines data-sharing systems to track local outbreaks, and implemented legal guidance on measures that protect health and safety, among other important measures.

Looking ahead, we know that COVID-19 will continue to unfold in unexpected ways. Yet cities are already using the momentum of their pandemic response to embrace new opportunities to promote healthier, more sustainable systems and behaviors. 

This World Cities Day, we call on officials, residents, community groups and businesses to work in partnership to make their cities places that build health and safety for all. Urban areas were already drivers of public health before the pandemic. Once again, they hold the potential to serve as pathfinders for their regions and countries.”

About the Partnership for Healthy Cities: 

The Partnership for Healthy Cities is a prestigious global network of cities committed to saving lives by preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with WHO, as well as Vital Strategies, this initiative enables cities around the world to deliver a high-impact policy or programmatic intervention to reduce NCDs and injuries in their communities. For more information, visit:

The Partnership for Healthy Cities COVID-19 Response is part of the $40 million Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Global Response Initiative. By collaborating with the WHO and Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, the Partnership for Healthy Cities COVID-19 Response is working hand-in-hand with the world’s leading experts on epidemic prevention.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible.  To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.  


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