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For many Americans, election day is the end of their focus on health policy, politics and advocacy. Well, not so fast! In fact, health policy and public health are on political agendas “all day, e’er day.”

Case in point? President Barack Obama has nominated Dr. Vivek Murthy to be the Surgeon General of the U.S., and the U.S. Senate has responsibility for confirming any nomination to this post. When the President and the Congress are involved, the decision is political, even when the position is health-focused.

(credit: sborisov / Thinkstock.com)

When health and policy and politics combine, health advocates engage to influence outcomes. As an example, on November 12, 2014, the American Public Health Association and a coalition of dozens of health-related organizations posted an open letter making a case for Dr. Murthy and the importance of this position.

In general:

The surgeon general serves as the nation’s doctor, and provides Americans with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury. The
surgeon general also leads the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, directing resources to America’s most critical health problems, and serves as the chair of the National Prevention Council.

Specifically, Dr. Murthy plans to focus on obesity, tobacco-related diseases, mental health stigma, and improving vaccination rates.

In sum, some public health professionals have as their focus advocacy for public health funding, leadership, policies and more. And, their roles are important and ongoing, just like health policy and politics.

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