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Dr. Hanan Balkhi Elected Regional Director of the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean
10 October 2023
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the appointment of Dr. Hanan Balkhi as the WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. Dr. Balkhi obtained the highest percentage of votes from member states during the 70th session of the WHO’s Regional Committee, held in Cairo from 9 to 12 October. She competed for the position of elected regional director of the WHO’s Regional office, after being declared the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s nominee by HE the Minister of Health, Mr. Fahd bin Abdul Rahman Al-Jalajel. This nomination comes as an extension of the excellence and leadership of Saudi competencies in the health field at the local and international levels in light of the support of the wise leadership, and a reflection of the empowerment that women have enjoyed throughout the history of the Kingdom. It also comes in light of the Saudi Vision 2030 where Saudi women hold high-level leadership positions locally and internationally and become global competitors in various fields, especially in the medical field.
In a press release, Al-Jalajel said, “The election of Dr. Hanan Balkhi as regional director of the WHO’s office for the Eastern Mediterranean confirms the excellence and leadership that characterizes Saudi women in various fields. It also reflects the confidence, support and empowerment the wise leadership, may Allah protect them,  provides for  Saudi women; thus enabling them to occupy many local and international leadership positions, through which they have best represented their country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and highly praised and admired by international communities.
Dr. Hanan Balkhi is a Saudi scientist and international expert. She spent nearly 25 years of her working life as a physician in the field of public health, child health, and communicable diseases. During these years, she acquired comprehensive knowledge in managing emergency situations related to disease outbreaks. Dr. Balkhi is a holder of Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery from King Abdulaziz University and a fellowship in the field of pediatric infectious diseases from Case Western Reserve University. She is a professor in pediatric infectious diseases at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences. She also held the position of Executive Director of Infectious Disease Control Department at King Abdulaziz Medical City, and Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at King Abdullah International Medical Research Centre, and Director of the Collaborating Center for Infection Control and Antibiotic Resistance at the World Health Organization (WHO).
Over the course of her career, Dr. Balkhi held the position of Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization for Antimicrobial Resistance in Geneva since May 2019. She worked within the highest administrative teams to develop the organization’s strategy, and was able to achieve partnerships with several institutions, including government agencies, international organizations, and charitable institutions, including international financial institutions. This enabled her to carry out the broad and comprehensive work of the organization, including its regional and global offices. In addition to overcoming the challenges related to developing these offices, to enhance public health by keeping pace with the health files shared between the countries of the region and the files specific to each country. Dr. Hanan Balkhi looks forward to continuing the efforts exerted over the past years and contributing to the development of the WHO’s offices in the region in a way that enhances the components of sustainable health and contributes to achieving a healthier future for the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
At the local level, Dr. Hanan Balkhi held many leadership positions that contributed to the formulation and implementation of health policies that had a direct impact on public health in the Kingdom. In addition, she devoted a great deal of her interest to scientific research, seeking to advance many areas of public health at the national level. She also established a national research program that aims at advancing the reality of public health from a “one health” perspective. She won many international and local awards, including the International Researcher Award, the Senior Leadership and Scientific Research Award, and the first award for the partnership between the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

Last Update : 11 October 2023 10:18 AM
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