By José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies was born out of the vision that every person deserves to be protected by a strong public health system, and the knowledge that we can rapidly save lives and build sustainable progress through assisting governments in tackling difficult health challenges.
In a short time, we have become a truly global organization, operating across sixty countries, and building a reputation as an organization with the capacity and knowledge to act swiftly, with leading public health expertise.
We have proven successes across health issues that are critical to global health, including non-communicable disease and injury prevention, tuberculosis, maternal health and more.
But there are still significant gaps. Today, I am pleased to announce we are supporting an unprecedented new initiative to address two of the largest needs.
Called Resolve to Save Lives, this new US $225 million Initiative will save more than 100 million lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes and will help countries close life-threatening gaps in epidemic preparedness and response. The initiative will be housed at Vital Strategies, and led by Resolve to Save Lives CEO and President, Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former commissioner of the New York City (NYC) Health Department. Born of Dr. Frieden’s experience and vision, Resolve to Save Lives has received a truly remarkable funding commitment from three of the world’s leading philanthropic organizations – Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Vital Strategies’ team of global health experts will help implement this program, providing support and technical assistance, and we will work closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), Bloomberg School of Public Health at The Johns Hopkins University, the CDC Foundation, the World Bank and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
There are two components of this initiative. Resolve – To Save 100 Million Lives focuses on heart diseases and strokes, which kill 18 million people every year. High blood pressure alone is the world’s leading cause of death, killing 10 million people annually, more than all infectious diseases combined. Strategic investment in three key areas could deliver rapid progress to prevent 100 million deaths: improved treatment of high blood pressure, elimination of artificial trans fats, and sodium reduction.
The second component of this initiative, Resolve – To Prevent Epidemics, will help governments in low- and middle-income countries move from the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) assessments to funded, implemented, and sustained programs to make their countries, regions, and the world safer from epidemics. This part of the initiative will focus on four key areas to improve capacity and preparedness: implementing and strengthening disease tracking systems, supporting laboratory networks, developing and supporting “disease detectives,” and developing rapid response teams to prevent unchecked outbreaks.
I am honored that this initiative is being housed at Vital Strategies. This initiative is a perfect fit with our expertise of building and strategically utilizing public health intelligence, mounting strategic communication programs to shape the public health agenda and change behavior, and strengthening critical public health systems.
We look forward to working closely with Dr. Frieden in the years ahead, to save millions of people from preventable disease, disability and premature death.