Saudi Scientist, Dr. Hanan Balkhi, Elected to Run WHO in the Middle East


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has appointed the leading Saudi public health expert Dr. Hanan Balkhi as Regional Director of its Eastern Mediterranean Office, following her election by member states at the organisation’s regional committee meeting in Cairo last October.

Saudi Health Minister, Fahd Al-Jalajel, commented that the achievement by Dr. Balkhi is evidence of “the excellence and leadership of Saudi women in various fields.”

Dr. Balkhi is a Saudi scientist and an international expert in her field. She has worked in public health and communicable diseases for over 25 years. Since then, she has acquired comprehensive expertise in managing disease outbreaks.
Locally, she held the position of Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the King Abdulaziz Medical Centre, and Head of the Infectious Diseases Department at the King Abdullah International Medical Research Centre. During her distinguished career, Dr. Balkhi was appointed Assistant Director-General of WHO for Antimicrobial Resistance in Geneva in May 2019.

Notably, Dr. Balkhi has 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 programme promoting the ‘One Health’ concept.

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