Frieden to head CDC (and Prevention)

This could signal a strong move toward systemic management of societal-level health ills:

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, known for his aggressive and sometimes controversial efforts to limit smoking and consumption of trans fats in the nation’s largest metropolis, has been chosen by President Obama to direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House said this morning.

Acting CDC director Richard E. Besser, who steered the Atlanta-based agency through the first weeks of the global swine flu epidemic, will return to his previous role as head of the CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.

In a statement, Obama called Frieden, 48, “an expert in preparedness and response to health emergencies” who in seven years as New York City’s health commissioner has “been at the forefront of the fight against heart disease, cancer and obesity, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS, and in the establishment of electronic health records.”

New York’s policies have been decidedly more interventionist than the nation as a whole might be up for, but the results have been impressive.  Expect some attempts at quick wins and some cries of government interference in people’s individual choices.  I’m torn on this one–I like being free to do dumb things, but I don’t like that I actually do dumb things.  I also don’t like that I’m required to subsidize others’ freedom to dumb things like smoking a pack of Marlboros each day or getting two out of three meals from a drive-through window.  The hypocrisy ought to be obvious:  I like the benefits of telling other people not to do those things, but not the costs of being held to the same standard.

While we’re on the topic, the CDC is always called “CDC”, which rolls of the tongue easily, but it is actually the CDCP, and this seems like a very prevention-oriented pick.

One response to “Frieden to head CDC (and Prevention)

  1. Pingback: Week in Public Organizations, 18May2009 « PublicOrgTheory

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