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New Global Burden of Disease Data Shows Vital Strategies Taking on World’s Leading Killers

Vital Strategies’ portfolio of work addresses the seven leading causes of mortality in the world, according to data in the recent Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation on September 15 2017.

“Vital Strategies’ mission is to build public health systems globally through helping governments tackle the world’s leading health problems,” said Vital Strategies CEO José Luis Castro. “I am pleased that GBD demonstrates our portfolio addresses the biggest issues and we are poised for maximum impact. With the recent addition of Resolve, an initiative that will save 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease, to our programs on obesity prevention, tobacco control, environmental health, tuberculosis and road safety, Vital Strategies is driving rapid progress across the seven leading risks and two of the leading causes of death. Of particular importance is that our work in prevention will help blunt the terrible long-term economic and developmental impact of diseases in low- and middle-income countries, particular for non-communicable disease drivers like tobacco use.”

“Vital Strategies is becoming known for driving rapid progress in difficult environments, often through bringing world-leading expertise into partnership with governments, and using innovation and a powerful global network to bring best practices to scale, often for the first time.”

Deaths by risk, globally —> Vital Strategies programs

1. High systolic blood pressure —> Resolve to save 100 million lives

2. Dietary risks —> Obesity Prevention

3. Tobacco —> Tobacco Control

4. Air pollution —> Environmental Health

5. High fasting plasma glucose —> Obesity Prevention

6. High body-mass index —> Obesity Prevention

7. High total cholesterol —> Resolve to save 100 million lives

Other noteworthy findings in the report relate to Vital Strategies work:

– Vital Strategies’ Obesity Prevention program works to address poor diet, which was associated with nearly one in five deaths globally.

– Vital Strategies’ work to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is well warranted, with NCDs rising to 72% of all deaths worldwide in 2016 from 58% in 1990.

– Tobacco remains the single leading cause of preventable death, linked to 7.1 million deaths per year. Smoking was among the top risk factors for loss of healthy life in more than 100 countries.

– Vital Strategies programs address three of the leading 20 causes of disability that were also leading causes of death in 2016 – stroke, COPD, and diabetes.

– HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis was the 3rd leading cause of death in low-income countries and 7th globally. Vital Strategies is a partner in the STREAM-TB program which is working to improve treatment regimens through clinical trials.

– Road injury, also a focus of Vital Strategies work in ten global cities, was the 10th leading cause of death globally and 7th in middle-income countries.

“We’re also proud that Vital Strategies is also a key implementing partner for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative, which is working in twenty low- and middle-income countries to improve cause-of-death data. In many countries around the world, robust cause of death data is scant. The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project and others attempt to account for this through sophisticated statistical modeling, but this analytical work is no replacement for directly measured, country-owned data. Although GBD estimates gives public health officials a starting point to orient health programs and policies, country investments in improved civil registrations and vital statistics systems are the best long-term way to sustainably determine the needs of their populations and measure progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals and their own public health objective.”

Learn more about Vital Strategies programs and read stories of progress in our 2016 annual report at

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. The Vital Strategies team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.