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Press Room

Statement from José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies on Today’s Landmark Meeting in Accra, Ghana

“Governments have known for years that noncommunicable diseases—including heart disease, lung disease and cancer—are responsible for the majority of deaths in the world, and that we have proven strategies for preventing and managing them. Yet financing for NCDs has stagnated for two decades at a pitiful 1% to 2% of the development assistance that goes toward health, even though NCDs cause the deaths of 41 million people a year, with some 77% occurring in low and middle-income countries.

Today’s announcement of a Global Compact on NCDs and a new presidential council on NCDs is a promising step to address what has been the major barrier to more people living longer, healthier lives: adequate funding and attention to NCDs. The longstanding failure to invest in NCD prevention and care has also vastly amplified the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I commend the leaders who have championed the investment and shift needed to raise NCDs on the global health agenda, and who will build the global political will needed to turn this compact into action. These leaders include Michael Bloomberg, WHO’s Global Ambassador for NCDs; WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; heads of state; and ministers of health.

If WHO´s recommendations to tackle NCDs were implemented in low- and middle-income countries, the world would avoid an estimated 10 million cases of heart disease and stroke, add a total of 50 million years of healthy life, and help realize US $230 billion in economic gains by 2030.

I am hopeful that today’s commitments seize on the global realization over the past two years that good health for all people everywhere is the best outcome for all societies and economies. This is how we can reimagine public health and change the next chapter of our story. It’s the legacy we must leave for the next generation.”

About José Luis Castro  

José Luis Castro is the President and CEO of Vital Strategies, where he has led a rapid expansion of Vital Strategies’ portfolio, working with governments to tackle the world’s leading killers, primarily in low-and middle-income countries. The organization now reaches into 73 countries and has touched the lives of more than 2 billion people. Castro is also the former Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).  

About Vital Strategies  

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible.  

To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat