April 29, 2021
The Texas Medical Association International Medical Graduate (TMA IMG) Section recognized Gilberto A. Handal, MD, of El Paso, with the IMG Section Outstanding Physician Award today for his dedication to improving the health of his community outside his medical practice. The TMA House of Delegates announced the award during TexMed, TMA’s annual conference, held virtually.
“America offers everyone the opportunity
to fulfill his or her dreams; all it takes is a positive outlook, integrity,
honesty, and hard work,” said Dr. Handal. “I always have had a clear view that
I will return as much as I can of what I have received. My ideals have always
been to contribute to make our families and children better and aspire to meet
their ideals. To be recognized by your peers is the greatest award I could have
Patsy Slaughter, the El Paso County Medical Society executive director, nominated Dr. Handal
for the award. She said his 40-year involvement with the society is
unparalleled. “Dr. Handal is an amazing individual and physician,” she said. The
physician was the medical society’s president and served on its executive
committee. “He is very dedicated to this community, the children of the
community, and the children of Texas,” said Ms. Slaughter.
A pediatric infectious diseases
specialist, Dr. Handal is a founder and three-time board president of the Advocacy
Center for the Children of El Paso. The center is a nationally accredited nonprofit
organization that for 25 years has advocated for child victims of severe
physical and/or sexual abuse.
Dr. Handal also volunteers for the
school health advisory councils of almost every school district in El Paso, to
strengthen the connection between health and learning. He developed school-based
medical care clinics in five districts, and provided education and training to
nursing and educational staff in most of those clinics. In addition to helping improve
the health of El Paso’s youth, he served six years on the National
Board of the School-Based Health Alliance.
Dr. Handal’s commitment to
public health covers El Paso and beyond. He developed binational programs for primary
and secondary care on the U.S.-Mexico border, working alongside pediatricians
and general practitioners in Ciudad Juarez to increase 93,000 families’ access
to better quality health care. Dr. Handal helped develop protocols for medical
clinics in Mexico. He also helped Mexican physicians establish and advance
laboratories and medical education programs.
The pediatrician restarted the
El Paso Pediatric Society and led the group for years. He also worked with the
Texas Pediatric Society.
Ms. Slaughter said she is “honored”
to have worked alongside Dr. Handal for nearly 25 years. “He never ceases to
amaze me with his dedication, energy, and ideas,” she said. “He is a true
humanitarian and advocate for children, El Paso, and Texas.”
Dr. Handal is a councilor on TMA’s Board of Councilors, the association’s ethical policymaking body, and is a consultant to the TMA Committee on Infectious
Diseases. He is a former executive committee member for TEXPAC, the association’s political action
committee, and chaired the TMA Committee on Child and Adolescent Health. He
also is a member of TMA’s Border Health Caucus.
Jayesh B. Shah, MD, a member of
the TMA Board of Trustees, said Dr. Handal has worked tirelessly for Texans
during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
“Honoring Dr. Gilberto Handal
is like honoring IMGs’ invaluable contributions to health care, who mostly work
in rural and underserved areas and provide much-needed access to vulnerable
Texas patients,” he said.
Dr. Handal received his medical
degree from The University of Chile School of Medicine and has practiced
medicine for 51 years. He devotes his time to
academia and research at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center’s Paul L.
Foster School of Medicine.
IMG physicians are an essential
part of the physician workforce in Texas. One in four U.S. physicians are
graduates of medical schools outside the United States.
TMA is the largest state medical
society in the nation, representing more than 55,000 physician and medical
student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical
societies around the state. TMA's key objective since 1853 is to improve the
health of all Texans.
Annear (512) 370-1381;
cell: (512) 656-7320
Cooper (512) 370-1382;
cell: (512) 650-5336
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