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CEO Perspective

Healthy People, Healthy Planet

Vital Strategies works with Jakarta’s city government and nongovernmental organizations to enhance air quality monitoring and source identification and develop an air quality management plan.

At Vital Strategies, we envision a world where health is high on the agenda every day—not just once a year. 

As we look beyond COVID-19, we need to rebuild public health systems, addressing the deep cracks that were revealed and exacerbated by the global pandemic. More importantly, we need to broaden our mindset—to reimagine what it takes to build robust public health systems. To achieve this, we need to think about the connections across society that keep people healthy, whether the issue is air quality, transport, food, tobacco, drug use or noncommunicable disease.

Take our food policy work, which highlights the dangers of ultra-processed foods high in salt, fat and sugar. The connection between these foods and rising obesity levels—which are driving up rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer—are well known. Yet the systems that produce ultra-processed foods are also responsible for generating a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.

And we know that air pollution claims 5 million lives around the world every year. More than 90% of the global population breathes polluted air, putting them at heightened risk of cancer and lung and heart disease. Children are especially at risk: Vital Strategies research, Ambient and household air pollution on early-life determinants of stunting—a systematic review and meta-analysis, showed the strong correlation between ambient and household air pollution and stunting in children, which has lifelong, irreversible implications. This is particularly relevant people who rely on solid fuels for cooking and heating. 

World Health Day recognizes that everyone, everywhere has a right to breathe clean air, eat healthy food, travel on safe roads, and be protected by public health policies that aim to prevent disease—not just treat it. 

The good news is, the world is finally waking up to the connections that make up a healthy society. To make every day World Health Day, we need to strengthen the foundations of health—across all sectors and institutions—so that no one falls through the cracks.

—José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies

To learn more about how Vital Strategies is working for a world where everyone, everywhere is protected by a strong public health system, explore a curated selection of our blogs, listen to our podcast Public Health Power Hour and watch our speakers series, VitalTalks


Good health doesn’t just happen. Learn about our campaign to reimagine public health


Women’s Health: A Global Imperative

We need a bolder, more equitable approach to public health (DEVEX)


New Research Underscores that Childhood Stunting from Air Pollution is a Global Public Health Threat

Catalyzing Clean Air Action to Combat Air Pollution


Tracking Cancer Data to Get to the Root of a Global Burden

Cities Commit to Slowing Down and Safer Streets


Unrecognizable and Ultra-Processed. Millions Consume Junk Foods, But What Are They?

Trusted Voices for Covid-19: Engaging Community Leaders to Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy  


Browse our library of publications, toolkits, technical guides, reports and public health campaigns. 

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