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Former Surgeons General Recount Political Pressure on the Job

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Former Surgeons General Recount Political Pressure on the Job




"It made an arresting tableau: four former surgeons general, aged 68 to 85, all in their blue admirals’ uniforms, together on stage like four grizzled Civil War veterans rehashing their biggest battles, and how they were treated afterward by the President and Congress.

But this was no re-enactment of Bull Run or Shiloh. It was an after-action report on America’s medical wars, and it took place this month on the stage of the New York Academy of Medicine.

“In this current climate of incivility, I think it’s important that medical students see models of integrity, compassion, camaraderie and wit,” said Dr. Judith A. Salerno, the academy’s president, who invited Dr. Antonia C. Novello, Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders, Dr. David Satcher and Dr. Richard Carmona to speak.

The underlying theme was how badly the country needs independent public health leadership and how often partisan politics obstruct that.

There were more than a few “I told you so” moments...

The four at this meeting were in office from 1990 to 2006 during the administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

That was an era when — not unlike today — scientists felt they were under attack by the White House, Congressional conservatives and armies of industry lobbyists. Then, however, the fights were even more blatantly over medical issues rather than global warming.

The four described battles over AIDS, smoking, teenage pregnancy and drugs.

They lost most of them — but time usually proved them right..."


Link to full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/24/health/surgeons-general-politics-interference.html


“The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some
of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence.
And there are so many silences to be broken.”

Audre Lorde

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