CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden to resign: 3 quotes from the outgoing leader
Tom Frieden, MD, has led the CDC since being appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2009. On Jan. 20, when President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, Dr. Frieden will hand in his resignation.
Recently, Dr. Frieden was interviewed by Reuters. While he did not divulge what he planned to do next, he did reflect on the work he's overseen at the CDC, what the agency will face in the future and what actions he hopes the incoming administration will take to protect public health.
Here are three quotes from Dr. Frieden.
1. On Zika: In the last year, federal health officials have issued 60 travel alerts, deployed more than 1,000 experts to Puerto Rico and other Zika hotspots, initiated 25 major studies and tested more than 147,000 lab specimens. According to Dr. Frieden, the work is far from finished.
"We have a lot more to do to control both Zika and diseases spread by this mosquito," Dr. Frieden told Reuters. The CDC director also said researchers need to continue to study the impact of Zika on fetal health beyond microcephaly. In addition to the neurologically debilitating birth defect which is marked by an abnormally small head, the virus has been linked to vision and hearing problems, severe irritability, trouble swallowing, epilepsy and excessively stiff muscle tone in infants.
"It's a startlingly complex infection," said Dr. Frieden.
2. On past, current and future infectious disease threats: "We've dealt with Ebola, H1N1 influenza, MERS, fungal meningitis. We're dealing now with influenza and drug-resistant bacteria," Dr. Frieden told Reuters. "We don't know when the next global health threat will come. We don't know where it will come from. We don't know what pathogen it will be, but we are 100 percent certain that there will be a next one."
3. What he hopes to see from Congress and the new administration: During Dr. Frieden's tenure as director, it took nine months of political back and forth for legislators to approve $1.1 billion in emergency Zika funds. Such a problem could be addressed in the future through a rapid response fund.
"I really would hope that come April, if a budget is passed, it will include the Rapid Reserve Fund plan that was outlined in the House bill, which ideally would also have some spending authorities that would enable the government to act quickly in an emergency," said Dr. Frieden.
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