Our Views: Long view for health

While Karen DeSalvo has been wooed from New Orleans, we hope the lessons of her public health campaign remain entrenched in the city and are replicated across Louisiana.

DeSalvo, of the Tulane School of Medicine, was tapped by Mayor Mitch Landrieu as health commissioner in 2011, after she had done a great deal to repair the city’s always-frayed primary care infrastructure in the wake of the 2005 hurricanes. DeSalvo will take a major role in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, promoting the implementation of electronic health records across the nation.

She will be missed in New Orleans. Her broad-gauged public health initiatives took in everything from bike paths to restoring supermarkets in poorer neighborhoods.

We shall not, obviously, give up our ideas of a good time in Louisiana. But common sense, and the impact of diabetes and heart disease, suggests DeSalvo’s initiatives must be continued and wherever possible enhanced.

The lessons of getting off the couch and getting moving are hard-learned. And the good times don’t have to go on a diet to achieve significant public health gains.

When DeSalvo went to City Hall, she expected to stay a year, and it turned into several, but public health is not a short-term game. The process she put in place should be not only continued but enhanced to make progress against obesity and its plague of consequences.