Dileep G. Bal was honored on February 23, 2016, with the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service. Bal was specifically awarded the Outstanding Career Public Servant at the Local Level.
He is the district health officer for the Island of Kauaʻi, UH Board of Regent Emeritus, clinical professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and clinical professor of Prevention and Control at the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center.
Nominated by Hawaiʻi State Senate President Ron Kouchi, Bal was honored for his leadership in helping to prevent obesity on Kauaʻi and statewide with a variety of innovative community-public partnerships and policies aimed at improving access to healthier food choices and having more safe places to exercise and play. He was also recognized for his outstanding work with tobacco and cancer control statewide and nationally.
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Prior to relocating to Kauaʻi, Bal had been with the State of California for more two decades, where he served as chief of the Cancer Control Branch within the Department of Health Services. With the advent of Proposition 99, which added a $.25 tax on each package of cigarettes sold in California, he became responsible for implementing California’s tobacco control efforts. This tobacco use prevention and cessation program was one of the largest of its kind in the world and has been universally acclaimed for its innovations and effectiveness.
Bal is presently special advisor to the Hawaiʻi state director of health for cancer, chronic disease, tobacco and obesity, as well as a member of the advisory committee to the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is also the immediate past chair of the Intercultural Cancer Council, a national advocacy and resource organization committed to being a strong voice for health equity in minorities and underserved populations, including Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who suffer disproportionate burdens of cancer and cancer risk factors.
A stalwart advocate for social justice, health equity, social determinants of health and prevention of chronic disease, Bal thanked and honored members of his teams over the years for being unsung heroes. He also joined other awardees, including Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, in stressing public service and putting political differences aside to work for the common good.
—By Tina Shelton