Herewith a JAMA interview on how Vivek Murthy, M.D., the new U.S. surgeon general, sees his job.
Among other things, he told JAMA:
“The issues that I want to focus on are the issues that are causing us the greatest loss of life, the greatest disability, and the greatest healthcare costs, and those are obesity and chronic disease; tobacco-related disease; mental health—where we still struggle with not only providing people with adequate care but getting them to come forward; and substance abuse. Statements that I’ve made in the past around gun violence stem from my experience with patients who have been the victims of gun violence over the years.Violence in general is a public health problem.
“Issues come up. For example, few people anticipated that Ebola would be a big problem a year ago. The measles outbreak that we had at the end of December—that was an issue not everybody would have predicted. My goal as surgeon general is to focus on the issues that are costing us the most in terms of lives and dollars, but to also be nimble and flexible so that we can respond to issues as they arise.”