New Delhi: Indian-origin surgeon general Vivek Murthy has been asked to resign by the Donald Trump administration and will be replaced by his deputy Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, the New York Times has reported.
She had already replaced Dr. Murthy on the surgeon general’s Twitter account and on the agency’s Facebook page, with one of the first comments asking, “Where is Dr. Murthy?”, the report said.
“Today, Dr. Murthy, the leader of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, was asked to resign from his duties as Surgeon General after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump Administration," the US Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.
"Dr. Murthy has been relieved of his duties as Surgeon General and will continue to serve as a member of the Commissioned Corps," the statement said. "(Health and Human Services) Secretary (Tom) Price thanks him for his dedicated service to the nation. Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, who is the current Deputy Surgeon General, will serve as the acting Surgeon General and assume leadership of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.”
According to NYT, Admiral Trent-Adams may be the first surgeon general who is not a doctor. She has served in the Public Health Service Corps for more than 24 years, USA Today reported. She has been the chief nurse officer for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Murthy confirmed the development in a tweet.
"For the grandson of a poor farmer from India to be asked by the President to look out for the health of an entire nation was a humbling and uniquely American story. I will always be grateful to our country for welcoming my immigrant family nearly 40 years ago and giving me this opportunity to serve," he said in a Facebook post.
Murthy is the second Indian-American to be removed by the Trump administration from a senior position. The first one was the US Attorney from New York Preet Bharara who was fired after he refused to resign.
Murthy was confirmed by the Senate by 51 to 43 votes in December 2014, despite stiff resistance by the pro-gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association. The Surgeon General is appointed for a four year term. At 37, he was the youngest ever Surgeon General. Murthy has been an advocate for reductions in health disparities. He has also taken on the powerful National Rifle Association by saying gun violence is a public health threat.
Murthy's parents are originally from Karnataka, India. He was born in Huddersfield, England and the family relocated to Miami, Florida when he was three years old.
He received an MD from the Yale School of Medicine and an MBA in Health Care Management from the Yale School of Management.
He is currently a practising physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, as well as the Hospitalist Attending Physician and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
He has co-founded Visions, an HIV/AIDS educational program in India and the United States, USA Today said.The surgeon general heads the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) and has an important say in public health policies.