The World Health Organisation (WHO) has appointed leading Saudi public health expert Dr Hanan Balkhi as the new regional director of its Eastern Mediterranean Office, after a vote from member states at the organization's regional committee meeting held in Cairo last October.

Dr Balkhi is a Saudi scientist and an international expert in her field. For more the 25 years, she worked in public health and communicable diseases. Since then, she has acquired comprehensive expertise in managing disease outbreaks.

She holds a 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.

Lauding the achievement, Saudi Health Minister Fahd Al Jalajel said the new role for Dr Balkhi is evidence of 'the excellence and leadership of Saudi women in various fields.'

Locally, she had held several top positions including as Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the King Abdulaziz Medical Center, and Head of the Infectious Diseases Department at the King Abdullah International Medical Research Center.

During her distinguished career, Dr Balkhi was appointed Assistant Director-General of WHO for Antimicrobial Resistance in Geneva in May 2019.

She held many leadership positions that contributed to the formulation and implementation of health policies that have a direct impact on public health. As part of her work, she ran a national research program promoting the "One Health" concept.

She had received significant awards including the International Researcher Award, Senior Leadership and Scientific Research Award, and the SHEA-APIC Partnership Award.

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