Politics ought not to influence the decisions about which data or science a Surgeon General shares with the public.
(PRWEB) June 20, 2013
In an e-mail to staff and her Commissioned Corps officers across the country on June 12, Dr. Regina Benjamin announced her resignation as 18th Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service. She wrote, "I will leave the Office of Surgeon General confident that we have paved the path for a healthier nation with a much stronger focus on wellness and prevention."
With the resignation effective July 16, the search begins for a new U.S. Surgeon General.
The spirit and clear intent of the law, U.S. Code Title 42 Section 205, is to appoint the Surgeon General, “from individuals who (1) are members of the Regular Corps, and (2) have specialized training or significant experience in public health programs.”
Promoting a career officer to serve as Surgeon General would demonstrate a commitment to members of the Commissioned Corps, one of seven uniformed services. Officers in the Commissioned Corps deserve the opportunity to strive for and earn the top billet in their service, a process that would provide parity with the way in which Surgeons General of the Army, Navy, and Air Force are chosen.
Second, choosing a career officer would ensure the leader understands and can demonstrate skills required by all officers in the uniformed services. Each Surgeon General of the past arrived in office steeped in the knowledge of health care. Few, however, could relate to their counterparts in the other services and command the same respect that comes from prior service.
Third, selecting a career officer would help insulate the position from political interference. In July 2007, former Surgeons General C. Everett Koop, David Satcher, and Richard Carmona testified in the House and agreed politics ought not to influence the decisions about which data or science a Surgeon General shares with the public. The Nation has much room for improvement in health metrics. Gerard Farrell, Executive Director of the Commisssioned Officers Association of the USPHS, said, "the Surgeon General should be willing to speak honestly about health trends and provide Americans with the education and resources needed to make decisions to improve individual and population health."