Washington: Dr Vivek Hallegere Murthy, presidential nominee for the Surgeon General of the US, today recalled his India experience wherein he helped train young women to be health care educators and leaders, during his confirmation hearing before a senate committee.
"I built a rural community health partnership in India called Swasthya to train young women to be health care educators and leaders. Through these experiences, I learned how to conceive and execute community-wide health projects that respected cultural and geographic differences," Dr Murthy told members of the powerful Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour and Pensions.
"As a public health educator, I created HIV/AIDS education programmes for tens of thousands of youth through an organisation I co-founded call VISIONS," said Dr Murthy, who if confirmed by the senate would be the first Indian-American to occupy the post of the top American doctor responsible for the country's health care.
Introducing him before the committee, the Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said that Dr Murthy has demonstrated his extraordinary leadership and is fit to be the country's 21st century Surgeon-General.
Describing himself as son of an immigrant parent, Dr Murthy, 36, said his grandfather was a poor farmer, who fought for freedom in India.
Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee said should Dr Murthy be confirmed, his calm demeanour, his excellent ability to communicate with Americans from all backgrounds, and his medical and public health expertise will be invaluable assets during the times that Americans are most concerned about their health and safety.
"He is an extraordinary physician, and exceptionally well-qualified to lead our national prevention and wellness efforts," Harkin said.
Dr Murthy is co-founder and president of Doctors for America, a position he has held since 2009.
In his remarks, Senator Lamar Alexander was highly critical of Dr Murthy and described him more as a political appointment rather than having enough credentials to occupy the top health care post of the country.
Alexander was also very critical of Dr Murthy's views on the sensitive issue of gun control.
Responding to question by Senator Alexander, Dr Murthy said if confirmed, he hoped to build communities and coalition to improve health care of the country.
"I do not intend to use my office as Surgeon General as bully puppet on gun control," Dr Murthy responded explaining that his views on gun control are based on his experience as a doctor and treating people who are victims of gun violence.
Dr Murthy told lawmakers that "reducing obesity" in the country would be his top priority as Surgeon-General.
On the eve of his confirmation hearing, a delegation of Indian-American doctors flew to Washington from across the country urging senators for his quick confirmation.
"The nomination of Dr Murthy as the US Surgeon General cements the reputation physicians of Indian origin have across America," said Dr Jayesh Shah, president of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).