Sanchez takes reins of Texas Department of Health

Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., last week began his tenure as Texas Commissioner of Health, the chief executive officer of the Texas Department of Health (TDH) Sanchez is the first Hispanic to hold the position.

Sanchez, 42, an Austin family practice physician and former health authority for the Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services Department, was officially sworn in by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a Capitol ceremony.

Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Don Gilbert selected Sanchez for the post, The Texas Board of Health, which oversees TDH, concurred with Gilbert’s decision, and Perry approved the appointment.

“We face a number of public health challenges and issues in Texas, but today it’s difficult to identify any priorities higher than bio-terrorism preparedness,” Sanchez said. “We’re prepared. We need to be better prepared. We’re taking steps to get there.”

Sanchez replaces William R. Archer III, M.D., who resigned in October 2000. TDH Executive Deputy Commissioner Charles Bell, M.D., performed the duties of the Commissioner of Health during the interim.

TDH, the state’s lead public health agency, has some 5,000 employees, a $1.5 billion annual budget and about 200 illness prevention, regulatory and health improvement and protection programs.

It is one of the state agencies operating under the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.