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Expert Q&A

No More Siloed, Single-issue Solutions and Short-term Thinking: It’s Time to Reimagine Public Health

Vital Strategies

From clean air to access to healthy food to safer streets, a collaborative approach to public health can help us build better public health systems and drive policies that protect everyone, everywhere. 

But how do we get there? On Oct. 27, Vital Strategies convened global public health leaders for a conversation on how to move beyond siloed, single-issue solutions and short-term thinking to repair the deep cracks in our public health systems exposed by the pandemic and center public health into our daily lives. Good Health Doesn’t Just Happen: Facing NCDs, Climate Change and Urban Health was timed to Vital Strategies campaign launched earlier in the week: Reimagine Public Health.   

Here’s what our speakers had to say:  

On Reimagining Public Health 

“The reason that we are reimagining public health or healthcare systems is because our pandemic we are in right now really showed the fault lines. We kind of knew already, but it was magnified by the pandemic.” – Femi Oke  

“As we look beyond COVID-19, we need to reimagine public health as more interconnected…It is our hope that out of this crisis, the world will see the value of investing in public health and how much progress we can make on what may seem like insurmountable challenges.” – José Luis Castro 

On A Collaborative Approach to Public Health

 “The future of public health demands that we stop looking for single-issue solutions and that we think more broadly about the connections that actually make a healthy society. Good health does not just happen. This means reimagining how global health organizations engage in the cities and countries in which they work, partnering with all levels of government and across sectors. And this means, working together with the very people most affected by health disparities to shape the policies needed to ease their health burdens.” – HRH Princess Dina Mired  

On Co-Benefits of Public Health Solutions

On Cycling & Cities 

“One of the greatest problems of humanity right now is physical inactivity. If we can get people to cycle and to walk safely, because traffic crashes are also a concern, then we will see the levels of physical activity increase. What that means is we will have less chronic disease, less heart disease, less diabetes and obesity.” – Claudia Adriazola-Steil 

On Climate Change and Environmental Health  

“In the climate space, we need to think about the potential public health benefits of decisions that we have to make now…When public health is factored into decision making what you find is that the benefits—in terms of lives saved, hospitalizations averted, avoidance of stunting or low birth weights—more than pay for the cost of the interventions necessary to green the economy, to convert fuel systems and to invest in renewables.” – Daniel Kass 

On Finances and Public Health 

“Health taxes are a win-win-win. It’s a win for revenues, obviously. It’s a win for public health, because the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages are major risk factors. And it’s a win for equity.” – Jeremias N. Paul, Jr. 

On Unhealthy Foods and NCDs 

“Taxes on ultra-processed foods would make these products out of reach and provide ministries and governments with sources of revenue…These products are bad for health. There is significant evidence now that ultra-processed products result in a number of illnesses from NCDs to weight gain and just general ill health, but they also have a detrimental impact on the environment. Because of the land use, biodiversity loss, and there’s evidence of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation of these goods, as well as the wastage that they result.” – Nandita Murukutla  

At the end of our event moderator Femi Oke asked our speakers one last question: In 250 words—the length of a tweet—tell us how we can reimagine public health together?  

Our speakers answered: 

Claudia Adriazola-Steil  “Bike. Think about how biking can make climate change better. Bike to be happy. Ask your mayor to make it safe.”  

Nandita Murukutla “Public health is a decision that is woven into every aspect of our lives from the air we breathe, the foods and drinks we consume to the roads we travel.” 

Jeremias N. Paul, Jr. “Be bold. Smart taxes saves lives, mobilizes resources, addresses health inequities, reduces health systems burdens and NCDs risk factors.”  

Daniel Kass “Act like the world’s on fire, because it is.” 

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About Vital Talks 

VitalTalks brings together leading voices from diverse fields to discuss today’s most pressing public health challenges. The speaker series examines today’s often-overlooked drivers of poor health and the factors that get in the way of people’s access to—and experience of—a long, productive, and healthy life. Join us as we elevate bold ideas and innovative solutions, working for a world where everyone, everywhere is protected by a strong public health system. #VitalTalks #ReimaginingPublicHealth