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New Head CDC To Tackle Swine Flu, Morale

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, May 15, 2009 11:22 AM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Swine Flu, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Salmonella, Public Health

The new director of the CDC was the NYC Health Commissioner.



IMAGE SOURCE:  New York Daily News Web site/ Dr. Thomas R. Frieden


In his most recent appointment, President Obama has chosen Dr. Thomas R. Frieden to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

Dr. Frieden has been New York City’s health commissioner, one of the nation’s largest public health departments, since 2002.

Frieden’s expertise has been in infectious disease, which he studied at Yale, He received medical degrees at Columbia University.

He does not have to go through a Senate confirmation.

In a statement the White House says that Dr. Frieden has been involved in the fight against heart disease, cancer and obesity alongside his work in infectious diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis. He is also a proponent of transferring from paper to electronic health records.

Currently the agency is responding to the swine flu outbreak that has sickened more than 6,000 in 33 countries and is reported in all but four U.S. states.

One of Dr. Frieden’s first tasks will be to work on developing a vaccine against the H1N1 virus.

Improving the morale at the CDC will also be a tall task. James Hughes, former director of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases, told The New York Times on Friday.

"He has to really listen to people, and I think there are too many bureaucratic layers."

A recent story by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that employees at the CDC are sitting on about 4,000 documents that deal with the agency’s morale problems and the exodus of key scientists, as well as its response to Hurricane Katrina, its treatment of lab animals and taxpayer-funded construction projects at the headquarters.

The paper has been trying to seek release of those documents which are supposed to be made public under the Freedom of Information Act.

The importance of government transparency was reinforced by President Obama in a memo issued on his first full day in office last January.

Former CDC director Julie Gerberding resigned in January.

The acting director, Dr. Richard Besser, will head the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response at the CDC. #

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