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Catalyzing Change Through Partnership:

2023 Year in Review

In Cambodia, General Department of Identification staff visits the family whose baby was the first to be registered under the health-CR link pilot project at Sangkat Kakap 1 in Phnom Penh.
An interviewer conducts a questionnaire about lead exposure during a home visit in Bihar, India as part of our Environmental Health division’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program.
Our Data Impact program, part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative, joined the University of Papua New Guinea to help train emerging local health leaders on data-centered leadership. Here, Serah Dot (left), Hospital Manager from Western Highlands province and Maria Posanek, Health Manager, Catholic Health Services, East New Britain province work on a data Interpretation exercise.
Marleny Mesa Trompeta (center right) and her husband Andres Efrain Noscue (right), taking part in a verbal autopsy with members of the Colombia Rural Vital team a few weeks after their three-month-old son Eliad Noscue Mesa died. The photo was part of the New York Times Magazine cover story “The Incredible Challenge of Counting Every Global Birth and Death” by Jeneen Interlandi, which featured work by the Vital Strategies Civil Registration and Vital Statistics program. Photo Credit: Juan Arredondo for The New York Times Magazine.
An activation event in Johannesburg, South Africa for the “Better Labels, Better Choices” campaign calls for clearer warning labels on unhealthy, ultra-processed foods and beverages while the proposed front-of-package label regulations are open for public comment.
Roz, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Worker demonstrates how to administer Naloxone to someone in order to reverse a fatal overdose.
Mayor Carolina Cosse of Montevideo, Uruguay launches the healthy food for public employees program as part of the Partnership for Healthy Cities.
In Bangladesh, Chattogram City Corporation and the Chattogram Metropolitan Police released their first-ever road crash report, which showed that 56% of traffic deaths in the city are pedestrians.
Policymakers and advocates in RESET Alcohol countries gathered in October in Cape Town, South Africa to share best practices and lessons learned, as well as opportunities to push alcohol policy forward in their countries.
Our VitalTalks Live event panel discussion following the screening of the premiere of the film “Tobacco Slave”. The film exposes tobacco giant Imperial Brands and other companies through first-hand accounts from farmers in Malawi.
On World No Tobacco Day, Partnership for Healthy Cities technical lead Dr. Thriveni Beerenahally joined a local march to highlight the city’s smoke-free work in Bengaluru, India.
A video on tobacco and e-cigarette harms being shown in Hanoi, Vietnam
A birth registration being conducted with a community health volunteer and village member for the Global Grants Program-funded project focusing on improving birth and death registrations in the North Bank Region of The Gambia.

Confronting the Overdose Crisis With a Public Health Approach

Vital Strategies partners with states, municipalities and civic groups in seven U.S. states to promote harm reduction strategies proven to reduce overdose deaths.


naloxone kits distributed through Michigan’s online naloxone portal with Vital Strategies' support


partners in 21 states who received Vital Strategies’ “DIY Event Boxes” for International Overdose Awareness Day


uptick in traffic to the Support Harm Reduction website

In Michigan, Vital Strategies supported the creation of an online naloxone portal, providing policy advising and program staffing. For International Overdose Awareness Day, Vital provided partners in 21 states with boxes filled with posters, flyers, banners and other materials for events that promoted the principles of the Support Harm Reduction campaign, which calls for universal access to: naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses; drug checking resources; safer drug use supplies; overdose prevention centers; and opioid use disorder treatment. Outreach for International Overdose Awareness Day drove a 240% increase in traffic to Vital’s Support Harm Reduction campaign website. 


Vital Supports States to Use Opioid Settlement Funds to Save the Most Lives

Funds from the landmark $26 billion nationwide opioid settlement are starting to reach communities around the country hardest hit by the overdose crisis. What is the best way to make this money count? Vital Strategies’ Overdose Prevention Program is working with state and local partners to channel these settlement funds so they have the greatest impact. Vital Strategies offers support, resources and guidance to state and local governments seeking to invest in initiatives and policies proven to reduce overdose and improve health outcomes.

Decades of research has shown that harm reduction strategies—such as access to safe drug use supplies, drug testing, and naloxone to reduce overdose—reduce rates of overdose among people who use drugs, while punitive measures—like criminalization and incarceration—increase the risk of overdose deaths and create a more dangerous drug supply. Naloxone is available in a nasal spray, as shown at left, that’s easy to administer and can save a life.

By investing opioid settlement dollars to develop and implement programs and services that focus on support rather than punishment, governments, advocates, and community organizations can save lives. Vital Strategies is working with partners across the country to do just that. At left, Voices of Community Activists and Leaders—Kentucky (VOCAL-KY) conducted grassroots organizing in Louisville to promote a harm reduction approach to drug use. See below for more on some of our state and municipal-level efforts.

Vital Strategies' State and Local Efforts to Support Investment for Harm Reduction

Vital Strategies dedicated $1.5 million over three years to North Carolina counties. The grants program offers up to $210,000 over three years to counties that agree to allocate matching or greater amounts from their settlement funds to support local harm reduction programs. Eight applicants representing 12 North Carolina counties were selected to receive funding that will help to expand community-based naloxone distribution and syringe service programs.

The Michigan Association of Counties and Vital Strategies have produced a Michigan Opioid Settlement Funds Toolkit: A Guide for Local Spending. This new toolkit provides local governments, community organizations and health care providers with strategies for using the opioid settlement funds—amounting to nearly $800 million to the state over 18 years.

Vital Strategies partnered with the National Association of Counties to help launch the Opioid Solutions Leadership Network, which gathered 30 county leaders from across the nation to pursue public health solutions to the overdose crisis and the most effective use of opioid settlement funds. Over a one-year period, the network held several convenings, virtual sessions, and program site visits to help local leaders explore opioid abatement strategies across the substance use continuum of care, including prevention, substance use disorder treatment and harm reduction programs.  

To amplify community voices advocating for a health-based, non-punitive response to drug use, Vital Strategies is supporting partners in Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with state-focused guides focusing on how to engage in the decision-making processes for use of the opioid settlement funds.

Supplying 300 Support Harm Reduction “DIY Event Boxes” to Support Community Events for International Overdose Awareness Day. To provide community groups and government agencies around the country with “Do It Yourself” boxes to help organize Overdose Awareness Day events, Vital Strategies curated comprehensive digital and printed assets—from video and social media posts to posters, banners and buttons—to build support for harm reduction, the proven public health solution to the overdose crisis. These events generated media coverage across the country, from students highlighting prevention in North Carolina, to communities taking action in New Mexico.

Taking to the Airwaves in Milwaukee to Save African American Lives

In response to the rise of overdose fatalities among Black people in Milwaukee County, which jumped by 52% between 2020 and 2021, Vital Strategies partnered with the City of Milwaukee Office of African American Affairs to launch a radio campaign to raise awareness of and promote the use to naloxone to help save lives, with hosts like Promise, pictured here. Launched in August 2023, the campaign ran through November and reached 90% of the city’s Black population aged 35-64.

Athens Receives Global Recognition for Overdose Prevention Wins

At a March 2023 summit in London convening mayors from Vital Strategies’ global Partnership for Healthy Cities network, Athens, Greece was one of five cities recognized for making great strides in public health. The city received a $150,000 grant to further its work increasing access to naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal agent, at community-based organizations and from health care providers. In addition, Athens began researching causes of death among people who inject drugs to better understand the impact of the overdose crisis.

Every overdose death is preventable. Vital Strategies partners with governments, providers and communities across the United States to advance health-centered solutions that engage communities, support people who use drugs, and enable broader access to lifesaving medications.