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Vital Stories

Top 10: Most Popular Vital Stories of 2023

The Vital Stories blog allows Vital Strategies to share the accomplishments of our global colleagues and partners across the broad spectrum of our work, including overdose prevention, tobacco control, strengthening civil registration systems, countering alcohol-related harms, using data to uncover gender-based violence and other public health challenges, promoting healthy food policies and road safety, and countering environmental hazards that pollute the air we breathe.

Vital Strategies published more than 35 Vital Stories blogs in 2023. Here are 10 of our most popular Vital Stories from last year.

3 Things We Learned From Urban Leaders at the Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit

Three years in the making, Vital Strategies’ inaugural Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit was the largest-ever gathering of the global network, which now has 73 cities. Convening in London in March 2023, more than 300 people from six continents shared challenges and experience tackling noncommunicable diseases and injuries, which account for 80% of all global deaths. London Mayor Sadiq Khan co-hosted the event, during which five cities were honored for making sustainable and lasting progress toward preventing NCDs and injuries: Athens, Greece, for working to reduce overdose deaths; Bengaluru, India, for tobacco control; Mexico City, Mexico, for road safety; Montevideo, Uruguay, for food policy; and Vancouver, Canada, for working to make public health data more accessible and inclusive. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the Partnership enables cities around the world to deliver high-impact policy and programmatic interventions to reduce NCDs and injuries in their communities.

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Holding the Alcohol Industry to Account: Q&A With David Jernigan, Professor of Health Law, Policy & Management at Boston University 

Some 3 million people die globally each year due to alcohol-related harms, including not just drink-driving and violence, but also cancer, heart disease and other noncommunicable diseases. Yet in spite of this death toll, many countries are reluctant to move more aggressively on policies to reduce alcohol consumption. Vital’s RESET Alcohol team spoke with Boston University Professor David Jernigan, a distinguished researcher on alcohol advertising and marketing, about dismantling the roadblocks to enacting alcohol policies that can save lives.

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Getting Ahead of the Next Frontier in Tobacco Marketing

The Tobacco Enforcement and Reporting Movement (TERM), which Vital Strategies has launched in India, Indonesia and Mexico to monitor and report on widespread digital tobacco marketing practices, released a report in 2023 that looks at the future of digital tobacco marketing as new technologies and tools are introduced, such as the metaverse, NFTs and advergaming.

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Plastic Is in the Air: Tackling the Nexus of Air Pollution and Plastic

During World Environment Day, Vital Strategies focused on a critical environmental health issue—plastic pollution. While many people know that plastic can harm the environment, its contribution to poor air quality and health outcomes is often overlooked. Yet air and plastic pollution are interlinked in multiple ways. Almost 40% of plastic waste globally is burned, releasing toxins in the air and leading to increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory ailments. And plastic waste tends to release toxic chemicals and break down into microplastics. Inhaling these tiny particles has the potential to severely affect health, and children and elderly people are particularly at risk. Vital Strategies’ Environmental and Climate Health team engages with governments to inform policies and influence public perceptions about air pollution and its health impacts.

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Making Sure Everyone Counts by Counting Everyone

An estimated 10 million people around the world are stateless. Without a legal nationality, they face lifelong challenges to access their fundamental rights and protections—including access to education and health care. Vital Strategies’ Civil Registration and Vital Statistics program supports countries to strengthen their CRVS systems through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative. In Rwanda, the government is making great strides toward reducing statelessness, having created a National Action Plan in line with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees #IBelong campaign, which aims to end statelessness within 10 years.

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On Overdose Awareness Day, Communities Honor Loved Ones and Support Harm Reduction

To support partners across the United States commemorating International Overdose Awareness Day, Vital Strategies mailed out 300 “DIY Boxes” to groups in more than 21 states to support Vital Strategies’ award-winning “Support Harm Reduction” multimedia campaign. The boxes contained digital and educational materials about interventions proven to save lives, including:

  • Naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses;
  • Drug-checking resources, such as fentanyl test strips;
  • Safer drug use supplies, such as sterile syringes;
  • Overdose prevention centers for supervised use, and;
  • Methadone and buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder. 

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Healthy Food Policy Fellows: Meet the People Who Are Building a Community Across Disciplines and Time Zones

Bloomberg Philanthropies hosts the Food Policy External Advisory Committee, in New York, April 3, 2023.(Photo by Ron Antonelli)

For the first time since the launch of the program, Vital Strategies gathered its Healthy Food Policy Fellows in New York City to network and build professional connections. Vital Strategies launched its Healthy Food Policy Fellowship to address the dearth of research expertise in food policy in Latin America, the Caribbean and South Africa. The current fellows are pursuing a broad range of disciplines and research topics, from health economics and food marketing regulations to nutritional epidemiology and the accessibility of healthy food options. The goal of the program is to support fellows to pursue Ph.D. research that will enable them to contribute to healthier food environments in their home countries.

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Using Data To Uncover the Truth about Gender-Based Violence

Over the course of their lifetimes, one in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence. Beyond this statistic lies stories and experiences that are often ignored and underreported. In May, as a part of its VitalTalks series, Vital Strategies convened a panel of experts who are using data-driven projects to inform solutions to the global scourge of gender-based violence. Can Data End Gender-Based Violence framed gender-based violence as an urgent public health problem, and panelists discussed solutions and called for investments in evidence-based interventions to better map, report and prevent violence against women. Data, one panelist said, is knowledge. And knowledge is power.

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Consumer Protection Guide for LGBTQI People in Peru Seeks To End Discrimination in Commerce

On International Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, 2023, Prosa, a Vital Strategies partner in Peru working to support the rights of the LGBTQI community, co-released the “Guide to Good Practices Against Discrimination Based on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Commerce and Advertising.” The guide, which aims to ensure that every consumer receives fair and equitable treatment, is a major step forward for LGBTQI rights. “This is an example of inter-institutional cooperation between the state and civil society in the fight against discrimination,” said Juan Manuel Castillo, a lawyer and activist specializing in identity rights for the LGBTQI community, and in-house legal counsel for Prosa. The result of this public-private partnership is a product designed to empower the consumer.

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World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2023

As an implementing partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), Vital Strategies works with governments worldwide to support proven road safety interventions, helping them to use data to inform policy and action. Every year, Vital Strategies supports governments to commemorate the nearly 1.3 million lives lost on the world’s roads during the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims—the third Sunday of November.

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