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US Senate confirms Indian-American physician Vivek Murthy as 19th Surgeon General

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Washington (Dec. 16, 2014): 37-year-old Indian-American physician Vivek Hallegere Murthy has been confirmed as the 19th Surgeon General of America by US Senate.

He is youngest person and first person of Indian-origin to hold the post.

The upper house of US Congress confirmed Murthy's nomination by 51 votes to 43 more than year after President Barack Obama had nominated him to this top administration post on public health issues in November 2013 which saw a strong opposition from the powerful pro-gun lobby National Rifle Association (NRA).

The final voting came yesterday soon after the Senate invoked cloture -- a procedural hurdle -- by same numbers (51 to 43 votes)

Pitching strongly for Murthy's confirmation, Senator Dick Durbin praised Murthy for his dedication to fighting obesity, tobacco related diseases and other chronic diseases that account for seven out of the top 10 causes for death in America and make up for 84 per cent of America's health care costs.

Murthy has a really impressive history of commitment to international public health, building two international organisations, one that empowers hundreds of youths in the US and India to educate over 45,000 students on HIV prevention.

Coming out in support of Murthy, Senator Daniel Markey said he has developed a skill set which is much needed for the 21st century and in an era where disease cross international boundaries.

Senator Mazie Hirono said Murthy would make an effective surgeon general.

On the one hand, when several Senators have lauded Murthy's nomination there were others who continued to oppose his confirmation.

"The American people deserve a Surgeon General who has proven, throughout his or her career that their main focus is a commitment to patients, not a commitment to politics.

"This is just another example of President Obama giving someone an important job based solely upon their support of the President's political career," said Senator John Barrasso, Chairman Senate Republican Policy Committee.

"Now is not the right time for this nomination, and it is not the right job for Dr Murthy," the Senator said majority of Murthy's career has been "as an activist focused on gun control and political campaigns."

In the last few weeks, Indian-Americans had been campaigning among Senators in favour of Murthy's nomination

Murthy's nomination was supported by over 100 public health and medical organisations including the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association.

Co-founder and president of Doctors for America, a position he has held since 2009, Murthy is a Hospitalist Attending Physician and Instructor in Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School, a position he has held since 2006.

In 2011, he was appointed to serve as a Member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.

Murthy has been the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of TrialNetworks, formerly known as Epernicus, since 2007.

He co-founded VISIONS Worldwide in 1995, a non-profit organisation focused on HIV/AIDS education in India and the United States, where he served as president from 1995 to 2000 and Chairman of the Board from 2000 to 2003.

He received a BA from Harvard University, an MBA from Yale School of Management, and an MD from Yale School of Medicine.

He was born to parents who are originally from South India. He came to the United States when he was three years old and grew up in Miami, Florida.

The powerful pro-gun lobbying group, National Rifle Association made a last ditch effort against Dr Murthy. It wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, and Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell.