Leana Wen: A New 'Doctor for America's Women'


September 28, 2018

Hello and welcome. I'm Dr George Lundberg and this is At Large at Medscape.

I know of few, if any, professionals in the public health community who do not believe that a desired and planned pregnancy is more likely to have a positive outcome for the children and parents, as well as society, than an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. Family planning is the process that encourages that outcome. I also know no one who opposes women's health, broadly construed. In developed countries with universal access to basic healthcare, these processes work as a norm. The United States is not such a country.

In 1916, the seeds were planted for the not-for-profit organization that would become IRS tax code 501c3 Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc, to fill a health access void for millions of American women. Now international, Planned Parenthood delivers healthcare, cancer and infection prevention, sex education, and patient advocacy in all states through 600 health centers serving 8000 patients a day, meeting community needs without discriminating by income, immigration status, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or health insurance status.[1]

Twenty percent of American women have used Planned Parenthood for their healthcare at least once in their lives.[1] Twelve million activists and donors in all 50 states support the activities. The intense political divide between the US "pro-choice" and "pro-life" advocates often uses Planned Parenthood as a symbolic and actual focus for conflict, via laws, regulations, demonstrations, court cases, and control of funding sources.

I consider Leana Wen, MD, the Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore, to be a good friend of mine. In fact, Dr Wen was the sixth annual Lundberg Institute Lecturer, in concert with the Commonwealth Club of California, on February 20, 2016.

Reflect on these biographical facts: Dr Wen was born in 1983, in Shanghai, China; she immigrated to Los Angeles, California, at the age of 8. She earned a bachelor of science degree at age 18 at California State University, Los Angeles, summa cum laude. She earned a medical degree at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, and an master's degree at Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. She was president of the American Medical Student Association in 2005. She completed her residency at Brigham & Women's Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital (BWH/MGH) in Boston; was board certified in emergency medicine; worked at BWH/MGH, and was on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. She has been a professor in the school of medicine at George Washington University; author, international lecturer, consultant; and Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore.

During her 4 years in Baltimore, acting as the "Doctor for the City," Leana Wen has led 1000 employees in an effort to successfully save 3000 lives from opioid overdose, reduce infant mortality to record lows, provide glasses to all children who need them, treat violence and racism as the public health crises that they are, and convene all sectors to improve community well-being.[2]

Effective November 2018, Leana Wen will become the first physician president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in nearly 50 years.

Hold on to your hats. I don't know of a more dynamic and effective public health leader than Dr Leana Wen. Those politicians who have been trying to destroy Planned Parenthood for oh so many years may have no idea about the force of nature they are about to go up against. Women's health, writ large as public health, could not have a more dynamic leader than Dr Leana Wen, the new "Doctor for America's Women."

You go, girl! Just do it!

That's my opinion. I am Dr George Lundberg, at large for Medscape.


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