Dr. Vivek Murthy, America’s top doctor, was dismissed by Donald Trump’s administration on Friday, April 21, 2017 as the US Surneon General. Dr. Vivek Murthy taking charge as the US Surgeon General cemented the reputation physicians of Indian origin have across America. President Obama made the right choice in naming a highly qualified physician to serve as America’s surgeon general.
The surgeon general, known as “America’s doctor,” represents the Health and Human Services Secretary and Assistant Secretary in addressing public health practice in the nation. Murthy, 39, was America’s youngest-ever top doctor, and he is also the first surgeon general of Indian-American descent. Dr. Vivek Murthy represents the next generation of Indian American physician. His ethics, quiet leadership style and impeccable credentials made him the smart choice for this position.
Murthy was named America’s top doctor by President Barack Obama in 2014, making him the first Indian American ever named to the post, one among many growing achievement of a tiny but economically powerful ethnic community. In a very short spam of time, Dr. Murthy had played key role in bringing to the forefront many crucial health issues confronting the nation. Dr. Murthy said, being picked for the job was a “uniquely American story” for the “grandson of a poor farmer from India.”
It was not immediately clear why Murthy was relieved from duty, the New York Times said while noting that employees at the Department of Health and Human Services privately expressed surprise at his sudden departure. Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General, and the first Indian American to hold this post said in a Facebook Post that it was an honor and privilege to work for this prestigious position.
“For the grandson of a poor farmer from India to be asked by the President to look out for the health of an entire nation was a humbling and uniquely American story. I will always be grateful to our country for welcoming my immigrant family nearly 40 years ago and giving me this opportunity to serve,” he said.
In a post on Facebook, Murthy said. “For the grandson of a poor farmer from India to be asked by the President to look out for the health of an entire nation was a humbling and uniquely American story. I will always be grateful to our country for welcoming my immigrant family nearly 40 years ago and giving me this opportunity to serve,” he added.
Murthy went on to recount his goals and achievements as surgeon general and said he “had hoped to do more to help our nation tackle its biggest health challenges, (but) I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have served”. He says he was the ‘grandson of a poor farmer from India’.
The US health and human services said in a statement on Friday he had been asked “to resign from his duties as surgeon general after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump Administration … (and stood) relieved of his duties”.
Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, a nurse by training and currently deputy surgeon general, was named to serve as the acting surgeon general and assume leadership of the US public health service commissioned corps.
Murthy’s exit was the second of an Indian American in a high-profile position in the federal government following that of Preet Bharara, who was among several US attorneys asked to resign by Trump in March.
But Trump has named several Indian Americans to senior positions, including Nikki Haley as ambassador to the UN, a cabinet-level post that is a first for the community, Seema Verma at the human and health services and Ajit Pai as head of the Federal Communications Commission.
“Murthy, the leader of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, was asked to resign from his duties as Surgeon General after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration,” the US Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement yesterday.
“Murthy has been relieved of his duties as Surgeon General and will continue to serve as a member of the Commissioned Corps,” the statement said. Murthy was confirmed as US Surgeon General+ in December 2014.
“(Health and Human Services) Secretary (Tom) Price thanks him for his dedicated service to the nation. Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, who is the current Deputy Surgeon General, will serve as the acting Surgeon General and assume leadership of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps,” the official statement said.
Interestingly, Murthy is the second Indian-American to be fired by the Trump administration from a senior position. The first one was the US Attorney from New York Preet Bharara who was sacked after he refused to resign.
“As my colleague Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams takes over as Acting Surgeon General, know that our nation is in capable and compassionate hands. Thank you, America, for the privilege of a lifetime. I have been truly humbled and honoured to serve as your Surgeon General. I look forward to working alongside you in new ways in the years to come,” Murthy wrote on his Facebook Post. While I had hoped to do more to help our nation tackle its biggest health challenges, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have served,” he said.
“The role of the Surgeon General is traditionally to share wisdom with others, but it was I who learned so much by listening to your stories in town halls and living rooms. In a remote fishing village in Alaska, a church in Alabama, an American Indian reservation in Oklahoma, a school in Virginia, and in so many other places, I watched the grit and grace with which our fellow Americans live their lives,” he said.
Murthy, in a landmark report on addiction released in November, said dependency on opioids and other substances must not be looked on as a “character flaw,” in the first publication from a surgeon general that has addressed drug and alcohol addiction.
“We will only be successful in addressing addiction — and other illnesses — when we recognize the humanity within each of us. People are more than their disease. All of us are more than our worst mistakes,” Murthy said in his statement. “We must ensure our nation always reflects a fundamental value: every life matters.”
Murthy embarked on a three-month listening tour of the U.S. ahead of a ceremonial swearing in Wednesday. “My overarching goal is to get every individual, every institution and every sector in America…to ask themselves the question [of] what they can do to improve the health and the strength of our nation,” Dr. Murthy said..
According to him, “The health challenges that we face right now are too big to be solved by the traditional health sector alone. We can’t build more hospitals and clinics and, solely based on that, expect that we are going to solve the health challenges that we face.
“A prevention-based society is one in which every institution, whether they’re a hospital or a clinic, or a school, an employer or a faith-based organization, recognizes and embraces the role that it can play in improving health,” Dr. Murthy had said in an interview. “The truth is, that while hospitals and clinics are traditional health care players, we know that the choices that people make in their lives about what they eat, about how active they are, about whether they ultimately decide to try a cigarette or to use drugs, those decisions are often influenced by factors far outside the hospital or the clinic.”
In his role as the top US doctor, Dr. Murthy, said, “I see myself more as an educator, as a convener and as a catalyst. What I would like to do is bring together organizations and the community to start conversations with employers, with faith-based groups and others to help them understand the role that they can play in improving health.”
Murthy was confirmed by the Senate by 51 to 43 votes, despite stiff resistance by the pro-gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association. The Surgeon General is appointed for a four year term. At 37, he was the youngest ever Surgeon General.
Murthy’s parents are originally from Karnataka, India. He was born in Huddersfield, England and the family relocated to Miami, Florida when he was three years old. He received an MD from the Yale School of Medicine and an MBA in Health Care Management from the Yale School of Management. It wasn’t clear till hours after the announcement if there was more to the decision to remove Murthy, whose appointment was opposed aggressively by the gun lobby spearheaded by the powerful National Rifle Association for pro-gun control views.
Murthy’s parents are originally from Karnataka. Now 39, he came to the United States with his family at the age of three and grew up in Florida. He studied biomedical sciences at Harvard and medicine at Yale. Murthy became an early supporter of Obama, starting a group of doctors supporting Obama in 2007-2008, which later became Doctors for America, a non-profit. His nomination as surgeon general was opposed by Republicans and took 10 months.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Friday he has been replaced, a little more than two years after he was confirmed under President Barack Obama. “Thank you, America, for the privilege of a lifetime,” Murthy said. “I have been truly humbled and honored to serve as your Surgeon General.”