On Dec. 15, the U.S. Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy to become the nation’s new surgeon general. Photo by Doctors for America.

At long last, the U.S. has a new surgeon general.

Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed into the position last night by the U.S. Senate, and will take over as the nation’s 19th “top doc.” Murthy was nominated for the position by President Barack Obama on Nov. 14, 2013, and will fill the post previously led by former surgeon general Regina Benjamin, who stepped down in July of 2013.

APHA celebrated the confirmation in a statement last night, and also expressed gratitude to acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak for leading the office for the past 18 months.

“With Dr. Murthy’s confirmation, APHA and the public health community pledge our continued support in helping to ensure the health of the American people,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “We look forward to working with Dr. Murthy to make the U.S. the healthiest nation in one generation.”

The surgeon general is a vital public health leadership position with three chief duties:

  • to lead the more than 6,500 men and women of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps;
  • to chair the National Prevention Council; and
  • to effectively communicate the best science around prevention and health to help improve the health of the American people.

APHA has long championed the position as a change agent to better America’s health, and has weighed in on the appointment of every surgeon general over more than 140 years. Benjamin said that “Dr. Murthy’s experience demonstrates a commitment to prevention, strong leadership qualities and a bright mind to take the latest science and turn it into better health outcomes.”

President Obama also applauded the confirmation last night, saying in a statement: “As ‘America’s Doctor,’ Vivek will hit the ground running to make sure every American has the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe. He’ll bring his lifetime of experience promoting public health to bear on priorities ranging from stopping new diseases to helping our kids grow up healthy and strong. Vivek will also help us build on the progress we’ve made combating Ebola, both in our country and at its source.

“Combined with the crucial support for fighting Ebola included in the bill to fund our government next year, Vivek’s confirmation makes us better positioned to save lives around the world and protect the American people here at home.”