Frieden Takes Charge Of CDC Today
Known for his often controversial approach to public health issues, Dr. Thomas Frieden will take over as the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today, according to various news outlets.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on Frieden's record of success and controversy during his seven year tenure as New York City's health commissioner noting that "some health experts believe Frieden will bring his aggressive approach to promoting public health to the national scene." In New York, Frieden "spearheaded a campaign to increase taxes on cigarettes and ban smoking in restaurants and bars. He supported needle exchange programs and condom distribution to help prevent AIDS, producing condoms with the city's NYC logo and the slogan 'Get Some.' He enraged restaurant owners when he expanded the city's smoking ban to include all workplaces, including restaurants and bars." While some groups are preparing for new battles, the paper reports: "It remains unclear whether Frieden will start pushing these issues. He speaks of his priorities more broadly, saying he wants to help CDC better track health problems, work more with state and local health agencies, and strengthen global health activities."
"Some groups worry that Frieden will blur the lines between state and federal responsibilities, pushing an agenda that they see as meddling with people's personal decisions about what they eat and how they live," the AJC reports. Meanwhile, Frieden emphasized that decisions at the CDC will be driven by science (Schneider, 6/6).
The Wall Street Journal reports on Frieden's arrival at the CDC, which "has suffered controversies in recent years, but has also been credited with a swift and able response to the sudden outbreak of the new flu." It noted that one of Frieden's top concerns will be getting data on the H1N1 flu virus and guiding the national response to the disease (McKay, 6/6).
The Associated Press reports that Frieden will have to take a different leadership approach at the CDC because of the nature of the agency, noting that "any campaigns against smoking, obesity and other health dangers will have to be won more with carrots than sticks, public health experts say." The AP also reports that Frieden "listed smoking as the nation's No. 1 health issue, and stressed the importance of fighting preventable illnesses" (Stobbe, 6/6).
Congressional Quarterly reports that Frieden's arrival comes shortly after public health advocates held a news conference Friday to push for more government investment in community-based programs that promote physical activity and good nutrition. The groups argue that more funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Healthy Communities program could help reduce health care costs over time (Stephenson, 6/5).