The American Public Health Association opposes the nomination of Dr. C. Everett Koop as Surgeon General, U. S. Public Health
Service. While it is appropriate that the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service should be a physician, it is critical
that the Surgeon General be a physician trained and experienced in public and community health rather than solely in clinical
medicine. There is no single profession except the profession of public health itself which covers the full spectrum of public
health. The professional skills of physicians, biologists, chemists, physicists, planners, nurses, environmental scientists,
environmental engineers, bacteriologists, virologists, and scores of others have a contribution to make to the field, but
no one of these encompasses the total spectrum of public health practice. Those trained and experienced solely in clinical
medicine deal with the treatment of patients, typically on a one-to-one basis. Public health professionals however deal with
populations and communities with a primary emphasis on prevention. The two activities, treatment and prevention, are extremely
dissimilar in approach and practice.
Many recent improvements in the health status of Americans have been due primarily to prevention activities and changes in
lifestyles. Future improvements in health status and the quality of life must and will emanate primarily from improvements
in disease prevention, health promotion, and improved control of environmental contaminants and pollution. Secretary of the
Department of Health and Human Services, Richard S. Schweiker has consistently identified the need for an increased emphasis
on prevention. This theme prevailed in the Republican Platform as well. Thus, the need to have a Surgeon General trained
and experienced in public health rather than in clinical medicine and medical research has never been more important.
We are confident that a qualified senior official from the U. S. Public Health Service, whose views are compatible with those
of the Administration, and who has the training and experience necessary to be sensitive to the needs of public health can
be identified, nominated, and confirmed. The best interests of the health of our citizens will be served by the appointment
of a public health professional who has the skills and desire to further the causes of disease prevention, health promotion,
and environmental health.