Black health officials call on CDC to speak up about gun violence

Thomas Frieden, MD, director of the CDC, has been noticeably silent on the issue of gun violence — but African-American health officials are saying it's time for the nation's top health official to speak up.

In interviews with CNN, experts like Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association; Swannie Jett, DrPH, president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials; and Lovell Jones, PhD, executive director of the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research and Training Consortium called attention to the CDC's silence on gun violence.

"It's time to speak up," Dr. Benjamin told CNN. "The CDC is a trusted organization, and the white coat is a very powerful tool."

Many of Dr. Frieden's supporters say his silence is a strategy to protect CDC funding from being cut by members of Congress aligned with the National Rifle Association, according to CNN. The report indicates the threat is not baseless — lawmakers in the 1990s threatened to shut down the CDC's National Injury Prevention and Control Center.

However, public health leaders like Dr. Benjamin, Dr. Jett and Dr. Jones say its time to question that 20-year-old threat. "Dr. Frieden needs to call their bluff," Dr. Jones told CNN.


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