Surgeon general steps down

Deputy Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu, MD, MPH, will fill the post for now.

By Susan J. Landers — Posted Aug. 21, 2006

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U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, quietly left Washington, D.C., on the last weekend of July when his term expired. He had served in the office since 2002.

Dr. Carmona was responsible for a number of reports that reaped praise from many in the health care field. A June report on the dangers of secondhand smoke promises to be a "landmark document that will accelerate our campaign for smoke-free environments," said AMA President-elect Ronald Davis, MD. "He's been a forceful advocate for health promotion and disease prevention."

In a July 30 letter to fellow officers of the Public Health Service, Dr. Carmona said he would consider his tenure successful if he had persuaded one student to make good health choices, one mother to stop smoking or the caregiver of a person with disabilities to see the intrinsic value of all human life and provide better care.

American Public Health Assn. Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, praised Dr. Carmona's efforts to bring the issue of health care disparities to the nation's attention. Dr. Benjamin also cited the surgeon general's efforts to promote health literacy and bolster the work of the Medical Reserve Corps, a program for medical and public health professionals who perform volunteer work.

His tenure was marked by efforts to "improve the health of all Americans," said Assistant Secretary for Health John Agwunobi, MD, MPH. Dr. Carmona also oversaw the U.S. Public Health Service Corps' largest deployment ever, in response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, said Dr. Agwunobi. "We are grateful for his service and wish him the best."

Deputy Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu, MD, MPH, has been named acting surgeon general.

Dr. Moritsugu, a career officer in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, has been deputy since 1998.

He was appointed deputy surgeon general by then-Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, PhD. Dr. Moritsugu has also served as the director of the National Health Service Corps and deputy director of the Bureau of Health Professions.

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