Tuesday, July 10, 2007

About our Nation´s Health

In front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the former Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified about the Bush administration interference with the Surgeon General's office practicing science-based public health:

[A]lthough most Americans believe that their Surgeon General has the ability to impact the course of public health as “the nation’s doctor,” the reality is that the nation’s doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas. Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological, or political agenda is ignored, marginalized, or simply buried.

Specifically, Carmona mentioned the issues of stem cell research, abstinence education, and global health reports. He continued,

The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of Surgeon General is to be “the doctor of the nation”— not “the doctor of a political party.”

Later in the day on the PBS Jim Lehrer News Hour, Carmona said the public should be outraged that their surgeon generals have been marginalized. When challenged as to why he stayed for 6 years, in a situation that he acknowledged was worse than previous administrations, Carmona spoke of the challenges all the surgeon generals have faced, with days they each wanted to quit...but ultimately they all held up the dignity of the surgeon generals office in spite of the challenges, at risk to themselves personally and professionally.

...but did Carmona take those risks? There are times where you quit, so that you can publicize the problems as a service to maintain the dignity of the office (and right before the administration in question is RE-ELECTED might just be a good time). And what does he mean by professional risk? Scientists and academics in public health and beyond (global warming?) have been talking about the Bush administration's supression of good science for years. Carmona's testimony is appreciated, but who knows what harm has occured before he spoke up.

Labels: , ,

All rights reserved.
Disclaimer And Comment Policy