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In the emotional speech, the new CDC leader swears to uphold the science

Robert Redfield Jr., the new head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, delivered his first address-wide address on Thursday. (Tracey Brown / University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP)

Robert Redfield, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gave a very personal, agency-wide address on Thursday in which he reiterated the importance of science and data Emphasizing and said the CDC's most critical public health mission is protecting Americans "from what we do not expect."

The 66-year-old Redfield, a longtime AIDS researcher a week ago appointed to the job, was twice overwhelmed by emotions in his brief remarks and a question-and-answer session. The medical professor at the University of Maryland had been looking for the top job at CDC and the National Institutes of Health for ten years.

About 30 seconds after his speech, he stifled and regained his composure. He spoke of the honor of running the best "science-based, data-driven agency in the world". I dreamed of doing this for a long time.

The 45-minute session at CDC's Atlanta headquarters, which saw or heard employees from anywhere in the US and around the world, was well received by staff, saying that Redfield was knowledgeable and knowledgeable.

I'm a bit nervous, I'm an outsider, "he said." I did not grow up here in CDC, but I hope you accept me as a family member and accept my wife because we're here to side with you

Several employees noted his strong embrace of science and said they were particularly pleased to hear him say that if CDC has evidence of public health intervention, the intervention should be applied.

The Maryland The clinician has quickly taken the helm of CDC, was sworn in by Health and Social Affairs Minister Alex Azar on Monday in Washington, went to Atlanta and met with the directors of the egg on Wednesday several CDC centers.

Redfield's main career focus was on chronic human infections, particularly HIV / AIDS. He led clinical care and research at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland. He oversaw programs that looked after 6,000 patients in the Baltimore-Washington area, as well as more than 1.3 million patients in Africa and the Caribbean, as part of the AIDS Aid Presidency plan known as PEPFAR.

His appointment had been criticized for his once controversial positions in the HIV test during the first decade of the AIDS crisis, his links to conservative AIDS organizations supporting abstinence prevention, and his lack of experience with public health organizations

At a time when scientists and health professionals are concerned about CDC and HHS commitment to science and evidence-based research. Just three months ago, CDC staff was advised to avoid seven words or phrases in short stories when preparing the budget for the 2019 budget. Some "words to avoid" were also set forth in an HHS style guide, and instructions about others, including "evidence-based" and "science-based," were given verbally by a CDC official. Department officials have provided various reports on how these verbal instructions were made, but said that this was not an official administrative policy.

The agency is "science-based and data-driven," and that's why CDC has the credibility around the world, "Redfield said Thursday, before choking again when he talked about the opportunity to head there after a 20-year academic career work. "The academy does not solve any problems. The Academia is not a service organization. "

Redfield failed to address some of the criticisms he had advocated for compulsory HIV screening decades ago, and some AIDS advocates said they were not sound public health approaches, but when he spoke on Thursday about how If he could stop the AIDS epidemic in the United States – which, in his opinion, could be achieved within three to seven years – he was in favor of comprehensive prevention strategies.

"I have never been an abstinent," he said. "Just ask my wife," he added, raising laughter from the audience, "I believe in every action that we have scientific evidence for, including condoms."

He also spoke of the importance of vaccines and related how, as a military doctor in the early 1980s, he helped convince the military leadership to "put every single one in the armed forces" against Hep Atitis B after a young soldier whom Redfield had cared for infected his wife and newborn child. "That's probably the most important thing I've done in my life," he said.

Too many people do not understand the importance of vaccines, he went on to mention the 130 children who died of this flu season. "We need to get the American public to understand that vaccination is important and needs to be fully exploited."

Redfield said the opioid epidemic was "the public health crisis of our time" and agreed with Azar that it would be a medicine, not a moral issue, to help the CDC to deliver the government's response. He also likened the stigma to addiction in the early days of AIDS. Redfield, which has five children and nine grandchildren, has close personal experience with the opioid crisis.

"If any of you have tried to get access to addiction help in this nation, I can guarantee you that it is complicated," he said. "It does not have to be complicated."

Although his backers point to his strong background in infectious diseases and global health, public health experts inside and outside the agency say one of his biggest challenges will be his limited public health experience. (19659020) Redfield talked about organizing relief efforts during the 2010 Haiti earthquake and his experiences in Africa on the PEPFAR program. But he acknowledged that the CDC's primary mission is to protect Americans from emerging health threats, whether it's naturally occurring diseases or bioterrorism.

"I pray this will not happen, but I want to make sure we're all prepared, be it flu – my biggest fear – or MERS or something else," he said, referring to the respiratory syndrome in the Middle East , an acute respiratory viral disease. "I respect the mission we have, which should be prepared for what we do not expect."

Redfield said he got a list of 57 articles from his wife about what he should do. No. 2, do not interrupt No. 3, listen. "

The post where the nation's leading public health agency was active was vacant since January 31, when the former Health Commissioner of Georgia, Brenda Fitzgerald, had quit after only half a year. It has not been able to separate itself from "complex financial interests" in a "definitive period", according to an HHS statement. Shortly after becoming CDC director, Fitzgerald had also bought shares in a tobacco company. Azar accepted her resignation two days after he was sworn in.

Read more:

New CDC Director is longtime AIDS researcher with contentious background

CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald resigns due to conflict over financial interests

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