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CEO Perspective

Spotlight: COVID’s Toll Beyond the Pandemic

More than 2000 schoolchildren marched in Depok, Indonesia in support of the city’s smoke-free laws (Photo: 2019, Vital Strategies Policy, Advocacy and Communication team, Indonesia).

The strength of our world’s public health systems can be best measured by the well-being of those who are the least protected—whether because of systematic drivers of inequity like poverty or racism, or structural issues that create lack of access to care, or some combination of these. COVID-19 has centered these inequities as never before. Vital Strategies works in cities and countries where the need is highest, where we can make the greatest impact and where we have strong partners. We are in constant consultation with affected communities.

This began with our early work, which continues today—fighting to bring tobacco control to countries where the tobacco industry targets youth and openly influences government, and searching for a less burdensome treatment for the hundreds of thousands of people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, most of them in low- and middle-income countries. And a focus on the communities that are the least protected, and where the greatest harm occurs, is at the heart of our newest work: when COVID-19 began, we immediately sought large investments work in low- and middle-income countries to strengthen systems and train health care workers. We have released guidance on how to support people who use drugs during the pandemic, we are working with governments to make sure that all deaths attributable to COVID-19 are counted, and we are helping communities in the United States build contact tracing programs to help contain the virus.

At Vital Strategies, we do not turn away from complexity, from multilayered challenges. We specialize in creating solutions to problems at a national and global scale. We bring the best evidence to local partners and governments, and we constantly seek new evidence and new knowledge that will help us better serve the people in most need.

—José Luis Castro 
President and CEO, Vital Strategies 

What To Watch  

Vital Talks: Turning the Tide on the U.S. Overdose Crisis

Expert Focus 

Vital Strategies Releases Guidance to Reduce Both COVID-19 and Overdose Deaths: Q&A with Daliah Heller

Why Lead Poisoning Prevention Matters: Q&A with Dan Kass 

Tobacco’s Goliath-Sized Threat to Public Health: Q&A with Rebecca Perl 

Fueling an Unhealthy Future: 5 Questions with Nandita Murukutla on How Health Harmful Industries Will Sicken Millions 

Naloxone Trainings are Crucial to Saving Lives from Overdose: Q&A with Esther Mae Rosner

CEO Perspective  

What do Health Care Workers Facing Coronavirus Lack Most? Colleagues. 

Menthol Products Disproportionately Harm Black Communities  

When #EveryBreath Harms: Governments Must Take Action on Air Pollution 

Improving Road Safety is Protecting the Next Generation 

Childhood Malnourishment: A Devastating Global Failure 

Vital Stories 

Reaching the Most At-Risk: Mayors Work to Address COVID-19’s Inequitable Impact

10 Campaigns Launch on World No Tobacco Day to Reach Youth and Protect Them from Tobacco Use  

New Study Spotlights the Gap in Health Security: Protecting Health Care Workers 

Vital Strategies Highlights How the Covid-19 Pandemic is Affecting TB Management and Research 

Global Policy 

No One Left Behind: Supporting Vulnerable Populations in the Covid-19 Era

Meet the 2020 Healthy Food Policy Fellows

Overdose is a Tragedy, Not a Murder   

Air Pollution: A Serious Threat to Children’s Health 

How Mexico Stood Up to Big Soda and What Latin America is Doing in the Fight Against Obesity 


COVID-19 Harm Reduction Toolkit 

Responding to COVID-10 In Africa: Using Data to Find a Balance

Addiction at Any Cost: Philip Morris International Uncovered 

Pollution and Non-Communicable Disease: Time to End the Neglect