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PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES DR. DAVID SATCHER AS HIS NOMINEE FOR
SPEAKER: WILLIAM CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
CLINTON: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, our distinguished guests representing the health professions, to the Satcher family, and ladies and gentlemen.
Just yesterday, we learned of the strong public health progress our nation has been making in recent years. We learned that last year, infant mortality declined to a record low. Prenatal care reached a record high. The teen birth rate declined for the fifth straight year. And death from HIV and AIDS declined more than 25 percent.
These are huge gains for public health, and much of the credit goes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their gifted leader, Dr. David Satcher.
As you heard from the vice president, Dr. Satcher's many accomplishments are built on the deep foundation of personal experience. On a small corn and peanut farm where he grew up, he relied on a dedicated country doctor, the only African-American doctor in the area, to come to his family's side in times of need.
That man, named Dr. Jackson, helped save David Satcher's life and then he and other mentors and other family members inspired him to dedicate his life to caring for the health of other people's families.
They inspired a man whose parents didn't have the opportunity to finish elementary school, to himself become the first black M.D., Ph.D. in the history of Case Western Reserve University, then go on to become president of Meharry Medical College and the director of the world renowned Centers for Disease Control.
In part, because of the inspiration of his family doctor, David Satcher is uniquely qualified to be America's family doctor. He's a mainstream physician with a talent for leadership, and I'm proud to announce that I intend to nominate him to be both assistant secretary for health and the surgeon general of the United States.
Only once before has a president asked one person to fill two of the nation's most prominent public health offices. I do so today because in his role as director of the CDC, the agency that is the world's best defense against disease, David Satcher has demonstrated his profound medical expertise and eloquent advocacy for the nation's public health.
He's helped to lead our fight to improve the safety of our food, to wipe out the scourge of emerging infectious diseases, to expand access to vital cancer screening.
I particularly want to thank him for guiding our childhood immunization initiative. Child immunization levels have now reached an all-time high. And cases of childhood diseases that can be prevented by vaccines are at an all-time low.
Now, I look forward to working with Dr. Satcher on our most important public health mission to free our children from the grip of tobacco. Every year, more Americans die from smoking-related diseases than from AIDS, car accidents, murders, and suicides combined.
We all know if people don't begin to smoke in their teens, it's unlikely they will ever begin to do so.
We have to make the most of this historic opportunity to protect our children against the dangers of tobacco by passing sweeping legislation that focuses first and foremost on reducing smoking among our young people. And he will lead our nation's efforts on many other health issues as well.
Over the past three decades of serving the health needs of our nation, David Satcher has earned the highest respect of public health officials around the nation and indeed, all around the world.
No one is better qualified to be America's doctor. No one is better qualified to be the nation's leading voice for health for all of us.
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