Washington: Ahead of a key Senate vote which could make Vivek Murthy the youngest ever Surgeon General of the US, Indian-Americans here have launched a nationwide campaign calling their Senators to support him.
The United States Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow to confirm Murthy, 37 as Surgeon General who was nominated for the position by US President Barack Obama in November last year.
“The Indian Diaspora has rallied behind Dr Vivek Murthy because he is eminently qualified to serve as Surgeon General. And so have 100's of healthcare organisations! He is not only a leader but also a successful educator, entrepreneur and research scientist,” eminent Indian-American M R Rangaswami, said.
The nomination has been pending before the Senate for over an year as the powerful gun lobby was against it which led to a number of Senators opposing his nomination.
However, as a result of the effort by Indian-Americans, several Senators have come out in support of Murthy.
“Doubts about his ability to serve as Surgeon General are not the problem holding up his nomination.
I fear that policy matters outside the scope of this position are actually to blame. I hope my colleagues do not let public policy debates unrelated to the position in which he would serve stall his nomination any longer,” Senator Barbara Mikulski said.
“Dr Murthy's nomination has received widespread support from local, state and national public health organisations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and American Public Health Association.
It is time to confirm him our nation's 19th Surgeon General,” she said. “Dr Murthy brings an entrepreneurial focus, and he is committed to using technology to expand our outreach on health and wellness in innovative ways.
I believe he will make an excellent Surgeon General,” Senator Mark Warner said.
However, US Senator Lamar Alexander said he opposes Murthy's nomination, alleging he is an advocate of gun control.
“The surgeon general is known as the nation's doctor.
He leads a professional corps of 6,800 commissioned public-health officers-including 75 corps members currently deployed to Liberia to provide critical medical care for healthcare workers infected with Ebola.
“Unfortunately, Dr Murthy's experience does not demonstrate the leadership and knowledge of public health that we expect from our surgeons general,” said Lamar, who is top Republican on the Senate Health Committee.
“The community (Indian-American) has done a lot starting with AAPI (the Indian-American Physicians group) as well as numerous community organisations like Indiaspora. We have met with a lot of Senators to express our support of his nomination,” Rangaswami said.
Before the Senate goes out on Christmas and year-end vacation and would re-convene in the New Year with a Republican majority, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote for the nomination this evening.
To cast their votes for the nomination, Senators would require to vote on a procedural cloture vote first, which is a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. The Senate needs 60 votes to end the cloture and Murthy's nomination would formally come up for voting only after cloture is invoked.
“The nomination of Dr Vivek Murthy as the US Surgeon General cements the reputation physicians of Indian-origins across America,” said Ravi Jahagirdar, president of American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin (AAPI).
“President Obama has made the right choice in naming a highly qualified physician to serve as America's next surgeon general. We are proud of Vivek and his many accomplishments and look forward to supporting him throughout the confirmation procss,” Jahagirdar said represents over 100,000 physicians of Indian-origin in the US.
“The Surgeon General post focuses heavily on public health and requires Senate confirmation.
Dr Murthy's appointment has been hanging for over a year for no justifiable reason,” said Jahagirdar, who was in on Capitol Hill along with top AAPI leaders seeking to win over the support of key US Senators.
Murthy was born to a Kannada speaking family who are originally from Karnataka, India. He was born in England but his family relocated to Florida when he was three years old.