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“Strengthened health systems everywhere must be at the heart of responding to noncommunicable diseases.”

Statement from José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies, on the World Health Organization’s new report, “Invisible Numbers: The true scale of noncommunicable diseases,” and data portal, released today.

Wednesday, September 21 (New York, NY) – “The release of the World Health Organisation´s new noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) data portal and accompanying report this week at the United Nations General Assembly is a timely confirmation that the nature of global health challenges facing us today and in the future are changing dramatically.

The key message of the report is unambiguous: NCDs such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes and respiratory disease now outnumber infectious diseases and are the top killers globally. At Vital Strategies, prevention of noncommunicable disease is a core tenet of our mission. The majority of NCD deaths are largely preventable and their prevalence also makes our societies vulnerable to future pandemics.

Confronting the challenge of NCDs requires nothing less than reimagining public health. Public health isn’t just laboratories or access to hospitals or medicines. It is the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. It is the roads we travel and the neighborhoods we call home. It’s strong policies that create health by protect us from the harmful products that giant, multinational corporations market relentlessly to us and our children: Tobacco. Alcohol. Sugary drinks. Ultra-processed foods. These have contributed to the ongoing escalation of NCDs—and as we saw throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, made people more vulnerable to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us we can’t afford not to invest in robust public health systems. If we fail to do that, we will be paying for it in other ways. Strengthened health systems everywhere must be at the heart of responding to NCDs and will ultimately protect us against the worst of any future pandemics.”

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by equitable and effective public health systems. We partner with governments, communities and organizations to reimagine public health, and the result is millions of people living longer, healthier lives. Our goal is to build a future where better health is supported across all facets of our lives, in our families, communities, in our environment and our governments.

To learn more visit or follow us @VitalStrat.

Media Contacts

Christina Honeysett: 914-424-3356;

Ally Davis: 516-205-4203;