Statement from José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies on World Health Day:
April 7, 2022 (New York): “Good health does not just happen. It is produced when societies invest in clean air, healthy foods, safe streets, quality health care, restrictions on harmful products like tobacco and alcohol, and most of all, equity. Our commitment to health cannot be annual pledges or promises tied to a single day of observance. Rather, it must be woven across sectors, policies and practices and matched with robust funding and political will. Together, we must prioritize everyone’s health, every day.
The pandemic revealed all too clearly the perils of political and economic policies that neglect public health systems. The millions of lives lost and plummeting economies resulting from COVID-19 were not inevitable, but the consequences of weak health systems and unconscionable gaps in access to prevention and treatment.
It is time for public health to become a priority across societies and sectors now that the pandemic has awakened the world to the need for robust health systems. Systems that will be able to withstand the next big threat—both natural and man-made. Globally, the question isn’t if, but when, the next health crisis will occur. We need stronger systems and bolder leadership focused on prevention and preparedness—not lackluster response in times of crisis. In areas of conflict right now, including Ethiopia, Ukraine and many more, as we hope for peace, we urge the international community to demand that safety and health remain a top priority in the humanitarian response.
Whether the issue is air quality, transport, food, tobacco, drug use, or infectious disease, we have to think more holistically about the interconnections that create health. At Vital Strategies, we are calling for a bolder, better, more equitable approach to health.
We need to reimagine public health, and place it at the center of our political, social and economic systems. From safe drinking water to healthy food, clean air and health equity, public health must be seen as an essential common good that touches all facets of our lives. This includes regaining momentum lost due to COVID-19 by prioritizing health systems globally and investing in strong health policies and programs.
By working across sectors, we can drive health-focused policy shifts to make wider and more lasting change that protects everyone, everywhere. Because every person—regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, wealth, sexual orientation, age or any other factor—deserves access to good health.
It’s in our power to reimagine public health and to make our vision a reality: World health, every day, for everyone, everywhere.”
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.
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