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CEO Perspective

Executive Messages – 2021 Annual Report

Vital Strategies

From the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees

Vital Strategies’ work is critical for these times. When there is crisis, it is easy to only see the week or month ahead. Vital helps countries and their leaders to take a long view on health. Vital’s work is rooted in questions like: How can we ensure that leaders have the right information they need to make decisions? How can we build public trust and support in policies that we know improve health? How can civil society contribute to needed policy changes? How can we work in a coordinated way with cities and countries to help them learn from each other’s mistakes and successes?

Vital works in local partnership in more than 70 countries around the world to answer these questions. In 2021, we embarked on a broad consultation which led to a new strategic plan that will focus our work in five areas: noncommunicable diseases, urban health, environmental health and climate change, injury prevention and public health systems. Layered on this is an explicit commitment to equity and seeking out those who have been historically underserved.

I could not be prouder to be a part of an organization with the vision and mission to carry this work forward.

Louis James de Viel Castel

From the President and CEO

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown all too clearly what public health practitioners have always known: Good health does not just happen.

Good health is generated when we prioritize and protect it, and when our economic, political and social systems are built on the shared understanding that health benefits all of society. The world has, for far too long, treated public health as an afterthought, instead of as a responsibility, a human right and a driver of economies.

This is true when we face infectious diseases like COVID-19, and it is true for noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, which remain the leading causes of death globally, even though they are mostly preventable and treatable.

In 2021, Vital Strategies supported leaders and communities around the world as they advanced health policy on longstanding challenges, even as they contended with the daily crisis of the pandemic. For example, with our support, Mexico achieved a momentous ban on smoking and tobacco marketing in all public places, and Ukraine—remaining committed to tobacco control even as tensions with Russia increased—passed national, comprehensive tobacco control legislation. A partnership between our Overdose Prevention Program and the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition helped achieve passage of a new law that strengthens support for syringe service programs. The Partnership for Healthy Cities supported more than 80 communication campaigns focused on COVID-19. And much more.

None of the work described in this annual report would have been possible without the support of our donors, the collaboration of our partners, and especially the commitment and talent of our global team. My deepest thanks go out to my remarkable Vital Strategies colleagues. Reflecting on our work during this challenging time gives me great hope for the future. In 2022 and beyond, Vital Strategies’ professionals around the world will continue to strengthen systems that prevent illness, withstand crises, and move us closer to a vision of public health that is truly created by everyone and for everyone.

José Luis Castro
President and CEO