Published January 08, 2015
I'm happy for Dr. Sanjay Gupta. His consideration for surgeon general of the United States is good news for health care.
Prior to 1968, the Office of Surgeon General was the administrative office for health care policy for the U.S. government. After that it was disbanded and the position of surgeon general became ineffective because it didn't create any major changes in health care.
Other than C. Everett Koop, who was a very forceful voice for the anti-smoking campaign and really the first person to take on the tobacco industry and say that cigarette smoking kills you, surgeon generals have had very little effect for change.
I'm happy for the choice of Gupta for several reasons_
1. He's young. One of the things health care policy in this country needs is new ideas. Because Gupta is just 39 years old (he'll be 40 in October), he'll be able to bring some much needed energy to the position. 2. He's a practicing physician. Up until now, most surgeon generals have been academics. They go from being a chairman (of a university hospital) to a dean to surgeon general. Because Gupta is a practicing physician, he understands the issues facing hospitals, doctors and patients and will take a first-hand approach to solving these issues. 3. He's very good medical journalist. Gupta has had a very broad educational experience in the many facets of health care today facing the nation and the world. He didn't just come from academic medicine with only educational experiences. He has seen a very true reality of medicine in America today. 4. As a medical journalist myself - reading, investigating and meeting people from around the country, I have gotten a better education than all of my years of medical training.
It's for all these reasons that I believe Sanjay Gupta would make a good surgeon general. And I hope that his independent voice would be a participant in devising health care policy along with Tom Daschle and the Department of Health and Human Services, and that his ideas would generate a true debate for what is good for patients and doctors in the U.S.
Dr. Manny Alvarez is the Managing Editor of foxnewshealth.com. Since 1996, he has been the Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Additionally, Alvarez is Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.