US surgeon general asked to leave

WASHINGTON • US surgeon general Vivek Murthy has been removed by the Trump administration and replaced temporarily by deputy Sylvia Trent-Adams.

Dr Murthy, a holdover from the Obama administration, was asked to resign, according to a statement released last Friday night by the Department of Health and Human Services. The statement said that "after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration", Dr Murthy "has been relieved of his duties".

Ms Trent-Adams, a 24-year veteran of the Public Health Service Corps and former chief nurse officer of the public health service, will fill the role for now, the statement said.

In a post on Facebook, Dr Murthy wrote that "for the grandson of a poor farmer from India to be asked by the president to look out for the health of an entire nation was a humbling and uniquely American story. I will always be grateful to our country for welcoming my immigrant family nearly 40 years ago and giving me this opportunity to serve".

A physician, Dr Murthy, 39, is a long-time believer that gun violence is a public health issue, a view that stalled his nomination in the Senate for more than a year and probably did not align him well with the current administration.

GUNS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE

The statements I've made in the past about gun violence being a public health issue, I stand by those comments because they're a fact. They're a fact that nearly every medical professional who's ever cared for a patient can attest to.

DR VIVEK MURTHY

He took office in December 2014 and, in an interview with The Washington Post four months later, he did not back off those views.

"The statements I've made in the past about gun violence being a public health issue, I stand by those comments because they're a fact," he said then. "They're a fact that nearly every medical professional who's ever cared for a patient can attest to."

His biggest accomplishment may have been the November publication of a landmark report on drug and alcohol addiction, which placed that condition alongside smoking, Aids and other public health crises. The report called the addiction epidemic "a moral test for America".

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2017, with the headline 'US surgeon general asked to leave'. Print Edition | Subscribe