TheFace: Hanan Balkhy, professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases

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Time: November 23, 2018      

“Our role is to pave the road for the next generation,” Hanan said. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
  • Balkhy loves nature and never passes up a chance to spend time outdoors

Hanan Balkhy is a professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases. She spent the first six years of her life in the US, where her father was studying for a doctorate in economics. After the family returned to Saudi Arabia, she grew up in Jeddah with a passion for sports and outdoor activities.
A graduate of King Abdulaziz University, she followed in the footsteps of her two older siblings and became a physician. She then went back to the US and pursued a specialization in pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, and then infectious diseases at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Case Western Reserve University.
Over the past 20 years, Balkhy has helped to establish and lead many programs in her field at national and regional levels. As a result, the World Health Organization, the United Nations and several other international bodies have recognized her as an expert in her field and sought her opinions, inviting her to serve on a variety of committees.
She is very much inspired by the younger generation and takes pride in her mentorship roles, which she takes very seriously. She has always believed that, as a society, we are capable of reaching the stars — and, indeed, has proven herself correct.
“Our role is to pave the road for the next generation,” she said. “When I returned from my training we had a lot of gaps that needed to be filled, but we want the fresh graduates to hit the road running. They need to start from where we ended.”
Balkhy’s biggest worry is the education system.
“There are skills that are still not being taught at the school level, and that weakens the ability for our students to compete,” she said. “I hope one day, soon, to see the education system totally revamped.” She stressed her belief in the importance of a strong K12 education in the growth and evolution of civilizations.
Balkhy also loves nature and never passes up a chance to spend time outdoors. She said that if she had more free time, she would also be busy with interior design, mixing and matching all sorts of fabrics and surprising herself with what she is capable of.

This article was first published in Arab News

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