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CEO Perspective

Cities Leading the Way

José Luis Castro President & CEO of Vital Strategies

With the majority of the world's population residing in cities, urban leaders have the potential to improve more lives than ever before.

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

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)—cancers, diabetes, heart disease and lung disease—now kill far more people than infectious diseases, and are responsible for eight in 10 deaths globally. Road injuries add an additional layer to the challenge, serving as the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 29 years old. 

“With most of the world living in cities, bold action by urban leaders has greater potential to improve lives than ever before. More than half of the world lives in a city, and will grow to more than 2 out of 3 by 2050. Increasingly, we see cities rising to societies’ biggest challenges—from climate change and road safety, to obesity and tobacco use. They are engines of change, able to move quickly to implement life-changing policies that affect great numbers of people.

“We see a future where cities are run and built to empower their residents to live long, productive lives. We’re proud to partner with dozens of cities around the world that share this vision. Together, we’ve proven that rapid progress against injuries and noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and cancer is possible. This World Cities Day, we call on officials, residents, community groups, civil society and businesses to work in partnership to make their cities places that build health and wellness. A future where no one dies of a preventable disease or injury belongs to all of us.”

Through the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a joint initiative between Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Health Organization, and Vital Strategies, cities worldwide are taking action. From serving healthier foods in schools to eliminating tobacco smoke from public places or building bike lanes, participating cities are using the lever of public health to save lives and build stronger, more prosperous communities.