Dr. Richard Besser is a leading worldwide healthcare expert. Dr. Besser came to ABC News in 2009 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he served as director of the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response. In that role, he was responsible for all of the CDC’s public health emergency preparedness and emergency response activities. He also served as Acting Director for the CDC and Acting Administrator for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry from January to June 2009, during which time he led the CDC’s response to the H1N1 influenza outbreak.
When an outbreak of swine flu swept the headlines, Richard Besser began to hold daily press conferences where he explained the United States government’s reaction to the outbreak, which originated in Mexico, but had since spread to over 20 countries, with the United States the most affected by the virus’s spread. Richard Besser led the United States’ top public-health agency as swine flu broke out on its doorstep and his communication shaped the early days of a pandemic. Besser’s handling of his press conferences drew praise from prominent American medical professionals such as Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. David Satcher. Many public-health experts now say that they are glad Besser was there when the emergency struck. Experts credit him — and particularly his decision-making and calm and upfront communication — with helping the agency through the first perilous days of the outbreak and setting the tone for a rapid and transparent response from the international public-health community.
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