Having reviewed her sterling credentials as a doctor (and as a human being, she's a mensch,) I wanted to know from a public health expert what they thought of the nomination of Regina Benjamin to the post of Surgeon General. And who better to ask than Georges Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Heatlh Association (no relation.) We've interviewed the APHA's Dr. Benjamin on Daily Kos, and we thought he'd have a unique perspective on the nominee. Dr. G. Benjamin's response:
There are ten essential services that public health practioners believe
comprise the core of the work that we do. They are (From CDC):
- Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems.
- Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community.
- Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues.
- Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems.
- Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
- Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
- Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable.
- Assure competent public and personal health care workforce.
- Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services.
- Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.
Of these Dr. Benjamin has engaged in all of these services at various times during her career. Many of us have come into the world of public health from years of clinical practice. In fact, most state health commissioners come from the practice side of the house. In addition we often say public health does three things: Access community health, develop policy to address the needs, as well as provide assurance through clinical and nonclinical services. Dr. Benjamin's experience in looking at the health of her community and that of the nation in her many volunteer roles; her impressive career as a health policy developer through organizations like the Institute of Medicine; and her life long dedication to providing care for her community through her clinic all meet these principles. If public health practice is the art and commitment of ensuring the health of a population, then Dr, Benjamin is one ideal example.
Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP(E), Hon FRSPH
That, she is. A day later, this looks even better as a choice. Mike Stobbe the health reporter at AP, notes one reason why.
The U.S. Surgeon General has been described as "the nation's doctor," a "national nanny" and the person who puts warning labels on cigarette packs. But lately, the position has been mostly called something else: invisible...
Public health experts say the person who holds the job is as important as the surrounding administrative framework. They say the surgeon general must boldly discuss what public health science dictates, even when political bosses disagree. Koop has said a surgeon general needs to be willing to walk away from the job to preserve that principle.
Some who know Benjamin say she can be soft-spoken at times, and is not likely to be the kind of firebrand that people remember in Koop and Dr. Joycelyn Elders. Some suggested Benjamin, 52, is more in the frank but lower-key style of another accomplished surgeon general, Dr. David Satcher, who served in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
She'll need to be frank, and she'll need to be clear. America needs a Surgeon General who can speak truth to power. We only remember the ones that do.