CAMBRIDGE, MA–U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy discussed the problems created by the current opiate drug abuse epidemic in the United States during a lecture at the Harvard Institute of Politics Monday evening, the Harvard Crimson reported.
The event was moderated by Amitabh Chandra, a professor at Harvard Kennedy the school .The conversational lecture included discussion of public health policy and the future of health lawmaking under president-elect Donald Trump’s future administration.
Murthy, a former Harvard Medical School instructor, began the event by addressing the nationwide “abuse” of prescription painkillers and other opioids, which he said is one of the most pressing public health issues today.
While Murthy admitted his confirmation process to become Surgeon General was contentious, he said he does not think his policy positions are controversial, Harvard Crimson reported.
He also called for doctors and other medical professionals to expand their traditional roles beyond the offices and into public life. He said they not only need to safeguard the health of their individual patients, but also fight to improve the environments in which their patients live, Harvard Crimson reported.
“It’s no longer enough for us to sit in our hospitals and clinics and hope that the healthcare system gets fixed, hope that social determinants [of health] get addressed, and when in fact we need to step up and be that voice that calls for some of that change,” Harvard Crimson quoted Murthy as saying.
When Chandra asked Murthy what changes Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States, would make to public health policies, especially regarding substance abuse, Murthy said he thinks progress will be made on these issues in the coming years, according to Harvard Crimson.
“This is an issue that has been bipartisan for a number of years now,” Murthy said.