Georgia’s health commissioner and obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, was announced Friday as the new head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a top public health agency for the federal government.
Fitzgerald served as the head of the Georgia Department of Public Health since 2011. She was appointed by Dr. Tom Price, who was named the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by President Trump. Her predecessor was Dr. Thomas Frieden, who left the CDC when Trump took over the Oval Office.
Price issued the following statement about Fitzgerald’s suitability for her new role:
“Having known Dr. Fitzgerald for many years, I know that she has a deep appreciation and understanding of medicine, public health, policy, and leadership—all qualities that will prove vital as she leads the CDC in its work to protect America’s health 24/7.”
He added, “We look forward to working with Dr. Fitzgerald to achieve President Trump’s goal of strengthening public health surveillance and ensuring global health security at home and abroad.”
The former health commissioner is widely respected among many of her peers in the public health community.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, claimed that Fitzgerald’s experience has “more than prepared to face the health challenges of our time, including climate change, Zika, Ebola, and our growing burden of chronic disease.”
Fitzgerald, 70, has had strong ties to the Republican Party. She was a GOP candidate for Congress twice in the 1990s. She was also a healthcare policy adviser to Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, and the late Sen. Paul Coverdell, reports TIME Magazine.
Her first official day at the CDC was Friday.
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