Washington, D.C., July 9, 2007—In a letter sent today to U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, the American Public Health Association reinforced the importance of the Office of the Surgeon General in helping protect and promote the nation’s health and underscored three principles essential to its functioning.
According to the letter from APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, “The surgeon general should be eminently qualified, have the necessary resources to fulfill the mission of the office and have the authority and independence to protect and promote the nation’s health.”
The letter includes qualifications essential for any surgeon general nominee and urges Congress to consider the severe lack of funding for the office. “Without adequate funding, it is virtually impossible to ensure that the positive, science-based public health messages originating within the Office of the Surgeon General are reaching the public at large,” wrote Benjamin.
The letter also emphasizes the importance of the independence of the office. “As the primary spokesperson for the nation on public health issues, the surgeon general must have the independence to serve as a respected authority presenting scientifically objective positions on all matters of national public health policy,” wrote Benjamin.
Waxman is chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is holding a hearing, “The Surgeon General’s Vital Mission: Challenges for the Future,” tomorrow, July 10, 2007, at 10 a.m.
The full text of the letter can be found at http://www.apha.org/NR/rdonlyres/07E6FFB6-7085-4AF2-8062-C56ADBA6DD35/0/APHAWaxmanSGletterfinal.pdf. For more about the American Public Health Association, visit www.apha.org.