Dr. Bal with his wife, Muktha, at the award ceremony. Photo courtesy UH
Prior to relocating to Kauaʻi, Bal had been with the State of California for more than 20 years, 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.