Show cover of VitalTalks: Future of Public Health

VitalTalks: Future of Public Health

VitalTalks: Future of Public Health from Vital Strategies looks at how the world around us shapes our health, and how we can shape our environments so that everyone, everywhere has the potential for great health. Vital Strategies is a global public health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit


Lead Poisoning: The Urgent Need for Global Action
We’ve known about the health harms of lead exposure for more than 1,000 years. But many people, including children, are still exposed to lead through various sources including paint, water and soil. In this episode, Dan Kass, Senior Vice President of Environmental, Climate and Urban Health at Vital Strategies joins us to discuss this pervasive public health problem, what governments can do to monitor lead exposure and what you can do to protect yourself from lead poisoning.
29:48 2/9/24
Our Right to Healthy Food
Improving diets by creating and maintaining healthier food systems and environments is paramount to addressing the $2 trillion global obesity epidemic. It’s a task that seems almost impossible under the deluge of ultra-processed products that make up most of our food intake. In this episode, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health joins us to discuss her new report, “Food, nutrition and the right to health,” and how food security and nutrition are necessary elements for global progress toward all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.   Featuring:   - Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health - Isabel Barbosa, Senior Associate, Health and Human Rights Initiative at the O’Neill Institute - Luyanda Majija, Associate Director of Communication, Food Policy Program at Vital Strategies  Access the report Food, nutrition and the right to health. 
43:05 10/27/23
Bonus Episode: Crisis to Empowerment - Opioid Settlement Funds
The U.S. drug overdose crisis has created new urgency to shift from punitive measures to a public health perspective, focused on harm reduction. Opioid settlements, agreements between governments and pharmaceutical entities, offer an opportunity to allocate funds toward preventing future crises. Christine Minhee, Founder, and Kate Boulton, Senior Legal Technical Advisor at Vital Strategies, highlight the importance of transparency and public involvement in decision-making processes on how these resources will be used, while discussing how health advocates can access the funds for harm reduction initiatives. Discover how these resources empower individuals and communities to influence the impact of settlement funds on global health. This episode features: Christine Minhee, Founder, Kate Boulton, Senior Legal Technical Advisor at Vital Strategies
17:45 7/11/23
Bonus Episode: Can Data End Gender-Based Violence?
This episode features highlights from our VitalTalks Live event, held in New York. One in three women worldwide have been subjected to physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes—an alarming statistic that only scratches the surface of this global atrocity. The event heard from experts who are using innovative data and advocacy to help bring gender-based violence out of the shadows and into the public eye. You can watch the full video of the event at Speakers include: Ruxana Jina, Director, Data Impact Program, Vital Strategies Márcia Lima, National Secretary of Policies for Affirmative Action and Fighting and Overcoming Racism, Ministry of Racial Equality, Brazil Erin Leasure, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Specialist, International Center for Research on Women Leila Milani, Program Director, Global Policy & Advocacy, Futures without Violence With moderation by Shakuntala “Shaks” Santhiran an international broadcast journalist and professional moderator With remarks from Vital Strategies’ Fatima Marinho, Principal Technical Advisor, Women’s Health and Gender Equity, Brazil and Sharon Kim-Gibbons, Vice President, Public Health Programs and Acting Director, Data Driven Policy Initiative for Women’s Health
15:27 7/5/23
Power and Health Inequities
Our first interview on this episode is with Lili Farhang, co-director of Human Impact Partners (HIP), a national public health nonprofit. Lili discusses HIP's mission to leverage public health for policy and systems change by addressing power imbalances through equity and collective power that centers social justice movements. Then we are joined by Hattie from ANSWER Detroit, a sex worker justice collective. Hattie discusses how their mutual aid network supports sex workers' health and well-being, and the significance of public health officials supporting mutual aid groups and including leaders from marginalized communities. Speakers include:   Lili Farhang, Co-Director of Human Impact Partners Hattie, an organizer with ANSWER Detroit   Links to resources mentioned in this episode: Human Impact Partners: Health Equity Guide Toolkit: ANSWER Detroit: 
53:48 6/27/23
Bonus Episode: Toward a World Where Everyone Counts
Lack of investment in Civil Registration and Vital Statistics has been called one of the most important shortfalls in global development over the last 30 years, and the results are devastating. Tens of millions without identity and rights. Governments flying blind. For the first time in history, we have the technology, tools and know-how to make every person count. We’ve proven that in Bangladesh, where birth and death registration have been boosted fivefold since 2015. This episode features a recording of our recent CRVS roundtable event, where you’ll hear from leading experts engaged in the life-changing work of making millions of invisible people visible. The event was moderated by Femi Oke, international journalist and broadcaster, with speakers including: • Irina Dincu, Senior Technical Advisor CRVS—United Nations Population Fund • Janet Miki Ohno, Ph.D., Consultant, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute • William Muhwava, Chief, Demographic and Social Statistics Section, African Center for Statistics, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa • Philip Setel, Vice President, Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, Vital Strategies With opening remarks by Jennifer Ellis, Data for Health Initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies. Read more about our CRVS work in this New York Times Magazine cover story by Jeneen Interlandi, The incredible challenge of counting every global birth and death: 
29:47 5/26/23
Upending the Donor Dynamic
In this episode, we discuss funding trends in global public health and the potential that new or different financing models have to catalyze impact. The episode features Ash Rogers, Co-CEO, Lwala Community Alliance; Julius Mbeya, Co-CEO, Lwala Community Alliance and Grace Chiang Nicolette, Vice President of Programming and External Relations, Center for Effective Philanthropy. The Lwala Community Alliance is a community-led organization based in Kenya that strengthens the capacity of rural communities to advance their own well-being. Lwala is also a grant recipient from Yield Giving, a fund established by McKenzie Scott to provide organizations with unrestricted funding that is transforming the nature and impact of philanthropic giving. Ash & Julius delve into the current financing landscape and what they believe is needed to catalyze impact that prioritizes community needs and leadership. The Center for Philanthropy (CEP) is a US-based nonprofit that provides data, feedback, programs, and insights to help individual and institutional donors improve their effectiveness. They do this work because of the belief that effective donors can profoundly contribute to creating a better and more just world.
56:22 5/19/23
New Models for Collaboration
In this episode we meet with experts who are advancing new models of collaboration that put countries in the global south at the forefront. We're joined by Dr. Mamka Anyona to discuss the Health4Life Fund, a U.N. led global financing partnership to accelerate action towards noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health in low- and middle-income countries. What makes the Health4Life Fund innovative is its aim to transform the NCDs and mental health landscape through a country-led approach that centers collective action and health equity. We also discuss new models for collaboration with Dr. Mazvita Muchengeti, an Epidemiologist and the Acting Head of the National Cancer Registry in South Africa. Dr. Muchengeti leads the IARC-GICR collaborating center in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is one of the three collaborating centers facilitating better access to cancer data in sub-Saharan Africa. She explains how collective action enables the centers to leverage knowledge and funding in a low resource setting. This episode features: Dr. Mamka Anyona, Policy and Strategy Lead for the Health4Life Fund Dr. Mazvita Muchengeti, Epidemiologist and the Acting Head of the National Cancer Registry in South Africa
40:03 3/13/23
Perspectives on Health Equity: Part 2
In part two of our series on health equity, we asked four more guests for their perspectives on health equity and what it means to them. This episode features: - Linda Villarosa, Author and contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine - Lola Adedokun, Executive Director of the Aspen Global Innovators Group - Carol McGruder, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council - Dr. Phil Gardiner, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council
33:11 1/31/23
Perspectives on Health Equity: Part 1
What does health equity mean to you and how can it help advance public health? As we launch our revamped VitalTalks podcast, we asked public health experts and those deeply engaged in equity work to join us to share their perspective in this special two-part series. Guests on this episode include: - Neena Prasad, Food Policy Program Lead, Bloomberg Philanthropies - Keecha Harris, President of Keecha Harris and Associates - Pedro de Paula, Country Director for the Vital Strategies Brazil office
37:43 1/24/23
Unsavory Alliances: Big Tobacco's Covert Network of Influencers
The tobacco industry relies on a complex web of allies to promote its business interests and advance its agenda—helping perpetuate the global tobacco epidemic. These allies usually appear independent from the industry, but often have opaque financial links to tobacco companies or other deep-rooted connections. On this episode, our guests discuss the network of allies who help carry the message for the tobacco industry, and how the industry has benefited from these alliances. Featuring: - Phil Chamberlain, Deputy Director, Department for Health, Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath - Ashfaq Ahmad, Communication Officer, Society of Alternative Media and Research in Pakistan - Moderated by Jorge Alday, Director, STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products)
41:01 12/8/22
Untangling Alcohol: Making Sense of a Leading Global Killer
Alcohol consumption causes millions of deaths through health harms and negative social and economic effects. There is an underlying connection between alcohol consumption and these deaths—from liver disease, heart disease, cancer, violence, vehicle crashes, falls to tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other conditions. Why is the largest killer of young people between ages 15 – 49 is so often overlooked? And what role does the alcohol industry play in this? In this episode we discuss the negative effects on individuals, families and communities and the policies and interventions that work. This episode features: Aaron Schwid, Legal Director of Policy and Programs, Vital Strategies Olivier van Beemen, investigative journalist and author of the book "Heineken in Africa: A Multinational Unleashed" Pubudu Sumanasekara, International Vice President, Movendi International Moderated by Jacqui Drope, Director, RESET Alcohol, Vital Strategies
36:19 12/1/22
Harm Reduction and the Overdose Crisis in Puerto Rico
After attending the National Harm Reduction Conference in San Puerto Rico, Gloria Malone of the Overdose Prevention Program chats with two Puerto Rican harm reduction advocates. Tanagra and Carla share their insights on what Harm Reduction in Puerto Rico looks like and the unique challenges and work they are doing to save and improve lives in Puerto Rico. This show features: Carla Correa, Coalición de Coaliciones Tanagra Melgarejo, National Learning and Engagement Strategist at the National Harm Reduction Coalition Moderator: Gloria Malone, Digital Strategist, Senior Manager, Overdose Prevention Program, Vital Strategies
28:49 11/3/22
What If Childhood Lead Poisoning was a Global Priority?
Globally, one in three children –up to 800 million–have blood lead levels that are higher than deemed safe by the World Health Organization. Despite clear evidence of harm, many countries do not have sufficient capacity to monitor or regulate lead and protect their people from widespread exposure.In this episode, we discuss how lead affects children and their families, why lead poisoning prevention been overlooked by governments and what solutions there are to reduce toxic lead exposure. This show features: - Drew McCartor, Executive Director, Pure Earth; - Dr. Lynn Panganiban, Technical Consultant of Pure Earth -Philippines and Toxicology Consultant of the National Poison Management and Control Center, Philippine General Hospital, UP-Manila; - Daniel Kass, Senior Vice President of Environmental, Climate and Urban Health, Vital Strategies
42:30 10/26/22
Food for Thought—What We Don't Know About the Food We Eat
It’s not news that what we eat has a huge impact on our overall health. What’s not commonly known is that 8 million deaths are associated with poor diet –accounting for 19% of non-communicable disease deaths. Increasingly, ultra-processed foods and beverages have become readily available and have dramatically changed the way people eat, resulting in diets that are much less healthy. Our panelists discuss: What are ultra-processed foods and beverages? What harm do these products cause? What policies have been effective in addressing ultra-processed foods? Do front-of-package nutrient labels work? In the case of front-of-package labels in Brazil and Argentina, how was progress achieved? What were some of the lessons learned? This show features: - Trish Cotter, Global Lead, Food Policy Program, Vital Strategies - Tainá de Almeida Costa, Communication Program Manager, Brazil, Food Policy Program, Vital Strategies - Steve Hamill, Vice President Policy, Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies
39:39 10/12/22
Does UNGA Matter?
UNGA, the United Nations General Assembly, sets policy for the United Nations. As we face generational challenges—rebuilding public health post-COVID, climate change, political instability—the successes and challenges of this global coordinating mechanism have come into focus. In this episode of the Public Health Power Hour we discuss“Does UNGA Matter?” and cover highlights from the United Nations General Assembly in New York over the past week. This episode features staff from our Policy Advocacy and Communication team at Vital Strategies, including: -Stephen Hamill, Vice President -Rebecca Perl, Vice President, Partnerships and Initiatives -Nandita Murukutla, Vice President, Global Policy and Research
37:40 9/22/22
Best of the Public Health Power Hour
Over the past year, the Public Health Power Hour podcast has featured leading voices in the public health space. In this special episode, Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, and Steve Hamill, Vice President of our Policy Advocacy and Communication team, reflect on segments from their favorite episodes in a roundup of moments you shouldn't miss on the state and future of public health. Issues covered include social reform and public health, vaccine equity, the toll of racism on health in American and women leadership in public health.
28:11 8/15/22
Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Health
In her new book, Under the Skin:The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation, award-winning writer Linda Villarosa argues that any effort to close the gap in health outcomes must also address the structural racism that underpins the U.S. health care system. She points to the adverse impact historical myths about Black bodies have had on policymaking and the way care is delivered. She displays the forces in the American health care system and in American society that cause Black people to “live sicker and die quicker” compared to their white counterparts. In a conversation with Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Villarosa discusses these and other issues her book brings to the fore, highlighting their relationship to the racial disparity still evident in our healthcare system and what can be done to address the resulting inequity and institutional racism. This episode features: Linda Villarosa, Author and Journalist Dr. Mary T. Bassett, New York State Commissioner of Health The discussion was moderated by Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies
58:49 7/19/22
What if...Tobacco Control Centered Equity?
According to The Tobacco Atlas, smoking prevalence is falling globally for the first time, but countries and people marginalized by the vestiges of colonialism, by racism, bias and other social determinants are due to suffer the greatest harm. They suffer a triple impact, as they are the least protected by health systems and policies, less likely to have access to health care, and are targeted by the tobacco industry. In this episode, we look at tobacco control and equity, with experts discussing what global, national and community strategies for tobacco control can look like when they address inequity. Panelists include: Rachel Kitonyo, Regional Manager Africa, McCabe Centre Andrew Waa, Research Fellow, Eru Pōmare Māori Health Research Unit, Department of Public Health, University of Otago This discussion was moderated by Steve Hamill, Vice President, Policy Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies.
60:44 5/26/22
What if...Women Led Global Health?
In this episode of the Public Health Power Hour, we discussed the impact women have when they have equal power, how COVID-19 has changed the landscape, systems and policies that can accelerate gender equity in global health leadership, and what aspiring women leaders should look for and demand in their careers. Panelists include: - Magda Robalo M.D, Global Managing Director, Women in Global Health - Kathleen Sherwin, Interim President & CEO, Women Deliver - Noelene Nabulivou, Executive Director, DIVA for Equality, Convenor, Women Defend Commons Network and Pacific Feminist Activist The discussion was moderated by Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies.
57:14 4/7/22
What if...Women's Health in Africa Centered Gender Equity?
Women’s health means ensuring that women have access to healthy environments and quality health care throughout their lives, including care for important issues during their reproductive years such as safe motherhood and access to modern contraception, safe abortions and postabortion care. Women often face pervasive systemic bias and stigma that lead to challenges across the health spectrum that can prevent them from living long, healthy and prosperous lives.

 In this episode, our expert panelists discuss how COVID-19 has changed the landscape and how governments and civil society can take steps towards a future where gender equity is at the center of women’s health care.

 This episode features: - Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, Lead, Merck for Mothers & AVP, Health Equity, Merck
 - Dr. Justine N. Bukenya, Medical Doctor and a Lecturer in the Department of Community Health and Behavioural Sciences at Makerere University - Dr. Onikepe Owolabi, Program Director, Data Driven Policy Initiative to Improve Women’s Health, Vital Strategies - Moderated by Deborah Charles, Senior Managing Editor at Devex
60:06 3/3/22
What If… Public Health Fueled Social Reform Movements?
This discussion focused on the past and future of public health and social reform movements, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting from a historical perspective of public health’s history of activism in social movements, and considering the challenges of the current moment, our panelists offer perspectives on how the field of public health can work differently towards a healthier world. This episode features: Céline Gounder, Senior Fellow & Editor-at-Large for Public Health for Kaiser Health News at the Kaiser Family Foundation and Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist Daniel S. Goldberg, Associate Professor, Center for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Shelley Hearne, Director, Lerner Center for Public Health Advocacy Deans Sommer and Klag Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Moderated by Dan Kass, Senior Vice President, Environmental Health at Vital Strategies
60:03 2/24/22
#CountingEveryone for a Healthier World
This Public Health Power Hour focusses on the importance of civil registration and vital statistics in ensuring people have access to the basic rights and protections afforded by a legal identity. The discussion highlights the #CountingEveryone campaign, which emphasizes the need for strong leadership and coordination to propel progress in counting every person, everywhere. With registration of all vital events, including births and deaths, governments can shape policies to better serve their populations and strive for a more equitable, accessible systems. This episode features: Dr. Samira Asma, Assistant Director-General, Division of Data, Analytics and Delivery for Impact, World Health Organization Gloria Mathenge, Statistician, UN Economic Commission for Africa Mosidi Nhlapo, Director, Births and Deaths Statistics, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) Moderated by Joan Sara Thomas, Regional Technical Advisor, Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, Vital Strategies Show links: #CountingEveryone: Data for Health program: Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Program:…l-statistics/
56:29 11/18/21
Vaccine Equity and Lessons of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic
This Public Health Power Hour examines activism in public health, looking at decades of HIV/AIDS activism in particular and discussing how it may apply to today’s challenges, especially confronting COVID-19 vaccine inequity. HIV/AIDS activism successful created a movement that changed the global public health landscape. Are there strategies, tactics, or common causes we can make to more effectively respond to the challenges of the pandemic era? Speakers include: - Maria Sarungi-Tsehai, Founder, Change Tanzania - Gregg Gonsalves, Associate Professor, Department of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health - Fatima Hassan, Founder and Director of the Health Justice Initiative Our panel draws particularly on their expertise and roots working in countries in Africa, mobilizing for change both within nations and internationally.
60:24 11/11/21
Mass Incarceration and Public Health
Mass incarceration is a public health crisis, especially in the United States, where the incarcerated population has ballooned to 2.3 million people in prisons and jails. COVID-19 has amplified the crisis, underlining the urgent need to address the drivers of this era of mass incarceration. It has brought new attention the enormous health and social costs of the carceral system, amplified urgent calls for reform, and highlighted the need for greater support for people within the system and people transitioning out. This Public Health Power Hour focussed on the causes and costs of mass incarceration from a public health angle, exposing listeners to first-hand experience of an advocate who experienced the COVID epidemic from within prison, and highlight paths forward. Speakers include: - Jon-Adrian Velazquez, Advocate, formerly incarcerated, wrongly convicted - Lorenzo Jones, Co-founder and Co-executive Director of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice - Daliah Heller, Director of Drug Use Initiatives at Vital Strategies
61:47 10/28/21
Alcohol and Global Health
What impact does alcohol consumption have on global health? In this episode of the Public Health Power Hour we discuss the state of alcohol control and hear about countries leading the way with policies aimed at excessive consumption. Speakers include Alison Douglas, Chief Executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland; Adam Karpati, Senior Vice President, Public Health Programs, Vital Strategies and Pubudu Sumanasekara, Vice President, Movendi International.
61:35 9/30/21
Sabotage, Deceit and Duplicity. Big Tobacco in Africa
Two new reports from global tobacco watchdog STOP suggest that British American Tobacco was engaged in potentially illegal activity in Africa, including a military-style surveillance operation to disrupt competitors and hundreds of payments to influence health policy. BAT’s activity may have undermined tobacco control progress across the continent. On this episode of the Public Health Power Hour, join us for a discussion with those behind the investigation. Speakers include James Ball, Global Editor, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism; Rachel Kitonyo Devotsu, Regional Coordinator for Africa, McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer and Jorge Alday, Director, STOP, Policy, Advocacy and Communication. Show links: STOP, Global Tobacco Control Watchdog: Sabotage, Deceit and Duplicity: British American Tobacco Bureau of Investigative Journalism: McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer:
60:18 9/23/21
Air Pollution, Pneumonia and Child Health
More than 90% of the world breathes polluted air, making air pollution a global health challenge in need of urgent attention. On this episode of Public Health Power Hour, we discuss air pollution and respiratory health, looking at its growing health burden and its effect on children's health. Speakers include Qurota Ayuni, Center for Indonesian Medical Students' Activities; Alejandro Daly, UNICEF Youth Representative, Colombia; Leith Greenslade, Every Breath Counts Coalition and Sumi Mehta, Environmental Health Division, Vital Strategies.
64:50 9/9/21
UNGA and Public Health
This episode of the Public Health Power Hour looks forward to the United Nations General Assembly, and what it will mean for Public Health. COVID-19, climate change and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are just some of the public health issues that will headline the UNGA in September. Join Kerry Cullinan, Africa Editor at Health Policy Watch, Tala Dowlatshahi, Consultant on Global NCDs at Vital Strategies and Rebecca Perl, Vice President of Partnerships and Initiatives at Vital Strategies for a discussion on key public health issues that will be in the spotlight at UNGA.
62:53 9/2/21
Next Generation Addiction with STOP and Truth Initiative
Big Tobacco has the next generation of smokers in their sights. In this episode of the Public Health Power Hour, we discuss how the tobacco industry continues to target youth with new addictive products, sleek designs and candy flavors. Yayne Hailu, Senior Content Strategist with the global tobacco control watchdog STOP was joined by special guest Janan, Youth Ambassador, Truth Initiative, for a firsthand account of the dangers of nicotine use. We also heard from Emma Green, Senior Program Manager at STOP about the new Modern Addiction campaign and what we can do to protect young people. And Dr. Mike Amato, Research Investigator & Methodologist with Truth Initiative joined us to talk about This is Quitting, the first-of-its-kind program to help young people quit vaping. Show links: STOP, Global Tobacco Control Watchdog: STOP Modern Addiction: Hooking the Next Generation: Truth's This is Quitting Program: Vital Strategies Tobacco Control Program:
55:14 8/26/21