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ASTHO Leadership Meets with New CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden 

As part of an ASTHO leadership visit to CDC in Atlanta several ASTHO members and staff had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Tom Frieden, the newly appointed CDC Director. Dr. Frieden shared his priorities with ASTHO, which are an informative look at potential future directions for the CDC. These priorities include: 

1.     Improving support to states and localities. Dr. Frieden mentioned several times during his meeting with ASTHO that CDC exists to “support state and local public health.” CDC will continue to develop and maintain direct relationships with health officials in states and large cities as part of this support. 

2.     Strengthening Surveillance and Epidemiology. As an epidemiologist, it should be expected that Dr. Frieden will emphasize surveillance and epidemiology in his new role. As in New York City, where he was health commissioner, Frieden is instructing his staff to use timely, accurate information to inform health policy. He also wants specific information about evidence-based interventions to promote health and prevent disease. 

3.     Strengthening CDC’s global health work. The CDC has major activities around the world and Dr. Frieden intends to continue these activities. 

4.     Improving policy effectiveness. Dr. Frieden would like to identify potential policy changes that will result in better health. Dr. Frieden and Mayor Mike Bloomberg championed efforts to ban tobacco use in public places in New York City and also worked to eliminate the use of trans fats and develop new menu labeling and nutritional information sharing in the City.  With this is as a background we could expect similar, national initiatives in the future. 

5.     Positioning CDC to address health reform. Dr. Frieden states that it is imperative that public health improvement be part of health reform, and hopes that prevention and wellness become a new emphasis in a reformed health system. 

With these five priorities in mind Dr. Frieden mentioned that the top three areas of activity within CDC are currently H1N1 preparedness, engaging in health reform discussions, and organizational improvement at CDC. One of Dr. Frieden’s first initiatives was to eliminate the controversial Coordinating Centers established by former CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. AMCHP will continue to share information about the CDC’s re-organization, Dr. Frieden’s priorities, and other new initiatives in the future. [AMCHP acknowledges ASTHO staff who provided meeting notes to AMCHP which formed the basis for this article.]