Indian American Vivek Murthy is confirmed as surgeon general

WASHINGTON (TIP): The US Senate has at long last confirmed Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., to be the 19th surgeon general of the United States. An educator and practicing internal medicine physician, Murthy has been an outspoken champion on a number of public health issues of keen importance to family medicine.

The 37-year-old Indian-American physician Vivek Hallegere Murthy is youngest person and first person of Indian-origin to hold the post.

The upper house of US Congress confirmed Murthy’s nomination by 51 votes to 43 more than a year after President Barack Obama had nominated him to this top administration post on public health issues in November 2013 which saw a strong opposition from the powerful pro-gun lobby National Rifle Association (NRA).

The final voting came yesterday soon after the Senate invoked cloture – a procedural hurdle – by same numbers (51 to 43 votes)

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Pitching strongly for Murthy’s confirmation, Senator Dick Durbin praised Murthy for his dedication to fighting obesity, tobacco related diseases and other chronic diseases that account for seven out of the top 10 causes for death in America and make up for 84 per cent of America’s health care costs.

“I believe Dr Murthy understands the importance of the national crises before him, and feel confident that his experiences, his training, and his tenacity have provided him the qualifications he needs to tackle these issues, and the many more he’s sure to face, head-on,” Durbin said.

“Not only is Dr Murthy an outstanding doctor and public health expert, but he also remains closely connected to his community and family,” he said.

“There is no question about the qualification of Dr Murthy to do his job,” said another Senator Chris Murphy, adding that Murthy has a really impressive history of commitment to international public health, building two international organizations, one that empowers hundreds of youths in the US and India to educate over 45,000 students on HIV prevention.

Senator Richard Blumenthal said Murthy has addressed some of the nation’s most pressing health problems over the times. “Dr Murthy’s credentials are without question. They are impeccable, unquestionable and indisputable”.

Coming out in support of Murthy, senator Daniel Markey said he has developed a skill set which is much needed for the 21st century and in an era where disease cross international boundaries.

“It is an opportunity to put a real leader in this position,” he said.

Senator Mazie Hirono said Murthy would make an effective surgeon general.

On the one hand, when several senators have lauded Murthy’s nomination there were others who continued to oppose his confirmation.

“The American people deserve a surgeon general who has proven, throughout his or her career that their main focus is a commitment to patients, not a commitment to politics.

Murthy’s confirmation has been widely applauded.

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, released the statement below following the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Vivek Hallegere Murthy as the next surgeon general

“I congratulate Dr. Murthy on his confirmation as our nation’s next surgeon general. He is a dedicated fighter for public health and I know he will work tirelessly to improve the health of all Americans. I was proud to stand with him during his confirmation process, and I look forward to working with him in his new role.

“I’m glad that this nomination didn’t fall victim to partisan bickering and pressure from special interests, but this is more than a political victory. The confirmation of the first surgeon general of Indian descent is a victory for the entire Indian-American community, whose young children will grow up knowing that anything is within their reach.

“It’s a victory for our medical community, with a dynamic and skilled physician leading our public health policies as our nation’s top doctor.

“And, this is a victory for the American people and ensuring better health for all.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in her Statement on Confirmation of Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General, said “I extend my sincere congratulations to our new Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who has demonstrated dedication to serving others. Dr. Murthy has shown his commitment and passion for improving healthcare, especially in the areas of mental health, obesity, chronic disease, and vaccinations. I look forward to working with him to serve the health and wellness needs of the American people.”

Dr. 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. Dr. Murthy attended college at Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude in three years with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Sciences. He received an MD from the Yale School of Medicine and an MBA in Health Care Management from the Yale School of Management. He is currently a practicing physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, as well as the Hospitalist Attending Physician and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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