Nov 9, 2023 - Health

Former Chicago health commissioner Allison Arwady joins CDC

Allison Arwady holds a press conference when she was the head of Chicago's Department of Public Health in 2021. Photo: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Former Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Allison Arwady is taking a new job with the CDC, overseeing efforts to prevent overdoses, violence, suicide and other injuries.

Driving the news: The CDC announced Thursday that Arwady will lead the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The big picture: It's a high-profile role, where Arwady will be tasked with helping curb drug overdoses — the leading cause of death for adults aged 18-45.

  • Meanwhile, suicides reached an all-time high in the U.S. last year, per the CDC.

Context: Arwady was fired by Mayor Brandon Johnson in August after serving as the public health commissioner for four years, including through the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Before running CDPH, Arwady spent four years as the city's chief medical officer.

What she's saying: "During my time leading Chicago's Department of Public Health, I saw the power of using local data to drive public health action and I look forward to translating this experience to a national scale," Arwady said in a statement.

  • "From overdose to violence, this country is in crisis, and we must meet the crisis with strong public health approaches that center evidence and equity."

The intrigue: Arwady said her August firing was abrupt, yet Johnson advocates say her use of back-channels to campaign to keep her job did her in.

What's next: CDPH has yet to replace Arwady. Her deputy, Fikirte Wagaw, is the acting commissioner.


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