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Dr. Hanan Balkhy: The Saudi Woman At The WHO Leading The Fight Against COVID-19

This trailblazing Saudi female woman heads up the World Health Organization as the Executive Director of Infection Prevention and Control

This Saudi woman has made it to the tops of health and medecine and serves as an example to the youngsters in the Arab world wanting to follow her footsteps. Dr. Hanan Balkhy, a leading figure at the World Health Organization (WHO) where she's the executive director of Infection Prevention and Control , has been working around the clock to put an end to coronavirus. . Here's how Dr. Balkhy climbed up the ladder before heading up the stringing fight against this pandemic...

Dr Hanan Balkhy graduate from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah and completed her paediatric residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston from 1993 till 1996. Her interest towards infectious viruses grew and she followed by a paediatric infectious diseases fellowship till 1999 in Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

Based in Geneva in the WHO headquarters, the acclaimed Saudi female expert is currently the Executive Director, at the WHO's Infection Prevention and Control at the Ministry of National Guard (MNG), assistant director-general for antimicrobial resistance at the WHO and the Director of the GCC center for infection control. Dr Balkhy is also an Associate Professor of King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Science, with over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals. In short, she's all the goals!

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, the National Public Radio (NPR) spoke to Dr. Balkhy on the pandemic diseases and its infectiousness. When asked if people should be wearing masks even if they're not symptomatic, here's what the Saudi doctor who previously worked on the MERS outbreak in Saudi Arabia said:

”The immediate answer is they should not be. If you are asymptomatic, then you should not be wearing a mask or a glove outside in the community because we know that it gives you, first of all, the false sense of security. Number two, I can tell you by walking in the streets and talking to my colleagues out there, most of the people who are wearing masks out there are wearing them incorrectly. They're not putting the metal over their nose. They're not securing the leakage of air. However, what would be a good time to put on the mask? Let's say in the scenarios where you have a patient who is home-isolated because of mild disease- that person has sputum, has phlegm. The burden of the pathogen in his immediate environment needs to be minimized, and putting a mask on at home might help him.”

Over the past 18 years, she's been the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Infection and Public Health such as ESCMID, ICPIC, IDweek and others. Dr Balkhy has impacted several WHO committees including: the Advisory group on integrated surveillance and antimicrobial resistance (AGISAR), the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (STAG-AMR), and the International Health Regulations review committee (IHR-RC). In her home country, Dr. Balkhy, Chairman of the Infectious Disease unit at King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, leads a team of scientists on relevant infectious disease research for the rising public health concerns such as multidrug resistance pathogens, MERS-CoV, hospital acquired infections, and now COVID-19.

We thank this frontliner and expert for her incredible work in the field!

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