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This report describes Vital Strategies’ work in 2019 to strengthen systems so that more people can live longer, healthier lives. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has transformed the world in 2020. While Vital Strategies has been deeply engaged in the COVID-19 response, our work on the key public health issues described in this 2019 report is continuing. The partnerships Vital Strategies built and strengthened in 2019 and before also created the foundation that is enabling us to provide direct support in 60+ countries for their pandemic response.


Vital Strategies’ mission is ambitious: building solutions to the world’s most pressing health challenges. In 2019, we worked in more than 70 countries to strengthen systems, often in partnership with governments at the national level. Our programs and campaigns reached more than 1 billion people.

At the very end of 2019, the world’s attention turned to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Long before the rst outbreak in China, our epidemic prevention team was working to identify gaps in epidemic preparedness in more than 30 countries and working intensively with ve countries to strengthen systems. These are the systems that we are now relying on during what has become an unprecedented pandemic.

The pandemic has proven Vital Strategies’ agility. We have risen to provide expert communication and support to governments and others dealing with COVID-19 and we are pushing forward the critical work we do to help all people live healthier, longer lives.

At the same time, we must not lose the progress we have made to reduce noncommunicable diseases. In 2019, we made significant progress on eliminating artificial trans fat from the global food supply, a major contributor to heart disease. We protected hundreds of millions of people through eliminating smoking in public places and restricting tobacco product advertising. We are leaders in a movement to bring global attention to noncommunicable diseases and their drivers, bringing these messages to the U.N. General Assembly, to the World Economic Forum and to the global public through hundreds of media outlets. We continue to do this work.

The year 2020 is one of the most challenging any of us has experienced. As we come together to contain COVID-19, we will continue to fight for the policies that prioritize health. We will make sure that we do not lose sight of our number one priority: to increase people’s quality and length of life around the world.

—José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies

Who We Worked with in 2019 to Solve the World’s Most Pressing Health Challenges—It May Surprise You.

Many people think that public health is about why people in their country are dying and how going to the doctor and listening to advice on how to eat better or take medicine that is prescribed. In reality, public health is about transforming the everyday spaces where we live, work and play so that they support health. At Vital Strategies, we recognize that health is inextricably linked to the people and institutions that shape our everyday lives—from the schools our children go to, to the government departments that manage the streets we use, to the businesses that shape the advertising that surrounds us.

In 2019, we worked with some of the powerful partners globally and nationally that you might expect, such as the World Health Organization, national ministries of health and clinicians who establish best practices. We also worked with some partners you may not expect. We know we will only untangle our world’s most intractable health problems with an innovative approach to partnership—and that means working not just with health departments and doctors, but with everyone from sheriffs in Pennsylvania to chefs in India to mayors in 70 cities worldwide.

Learn More About Our Programs and Where We Work

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