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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

International Programs

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Introduction of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Director


April 16, 2012


Dear International Colleague:

I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has successfully opened a post for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region. FDA is responsible for assuring the quality and safety of all FDA regulated products that are exported from foreign sources to the United States and is committed to engaging with its foreign partners to ensure that FDA initiatives have a global impact. The FDA’s Office of International Programs works in a variety of ways to enhance international cooperation, including establishing 13 foreign posts in China, Europe, India, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa. The post in the MENA region, located at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, is the latest FDA post to be established internationally.

Layla Batarseh, Ph.D., the Senior Regional Advisor, serves as the primary representative for FDA in the MENA Region. I have attached her biography for your convenience. Under Dr. Batarseh’s guidance, the MENA Region Post will contribute to the implementation of FDA’s new strategy to address globalization. The strategy consists of four primary components:

  • Partner with foreign counterparts to create global coalitions of regulators focused on ensuring and improving global product safety.
  • Build global data-information systems and networks while proactively sharing data with peers.
  • Expand capabilities in intelligence gathering, with an increased focus on risk analytics and thoroughly modernized IT capabilities.
  • Allocate agency resources effectively based on risk while leveraging the combined efforts of government, industry, and public and private third parties.

In the context of globalization, the main role of FDA’s Office of International Programs and the MENA Region Post includes:

  • Communication: Serving as a portal between FDA and its stakeholders including foreign governments, international organizations, foreign embassies and consulates in the United States.
  • Sharing information: Enabling FDA officials to make better decisions about FDA regulated products that are being offered for entry into the U.S. market or reviewed for marketing authorization in the United States, and advocating for ongoing international and regional efforts to harmonize standards.
  • Collaboration: Working with the industries that export products to the United States to help assure their understanding of FDA standards and requirements, and identifying areas for mutual collaboration by working with individual countries and/or regionally with multilateral organizations to determine common areas of interest.
  • Assessments: Assessing in-country conditions and events that might have an impact on the safety, quality, and availability of FDA regulated products exported to the United States.
  • Relationship Building: Engaging with foreign counterparts, industry, academia, and the research community to help FDA better accomplish its mission of promoting and protecting the public health by building close, long-lasting, trusted relationships and fostering active and mutually-beneficial partnerships.
  • Technical Cooperation: Facilitating international technical cooperation, assistance activities, and capacity building efforts.

FDA’s Office of International Programs is excited for the opportunity to work more closely with our MENA colleagues, and I am confident that the new MENA Region Post will increase our ability to do so.


I encourage you to please contact Dr. Layla Batarseh via email at layla.batarseh@fda.hhs.gov or US-FDA-MENA@fda.hhs.gov if you have any inquiries. Additional information can also be found on the FDA Office of International Programs’ website at http://www.fda.gov/InternationalPrograms/FDABeyondOurBordersForeignOffices/MiddleEast/default.htm  




Mary Lou Valdez, MSM
Associate Commissioner for International Programs


Enc: Dr. Batarseh’s Biography


Layla Issa Batarseh, Ph.D.

Senior Regional Advisor for Middle East and North Africa
Office of International Programs
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Amman, Jordan

Dr. Layla Batarseh is a toxicologist and is presently the U.S. FDA Senior Regional Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region in the Office of International Programs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Batarseh is responsible for directing the MENA Region Post activities to achieve its objectives of capacity building, regulatory information gathering, and building strong and close collaborative relationships with the countries of the region. She will be focusing on working with those countries to strengthen their regulatory infrastructure, preventive controls, and production practices to help ensure that their FDA-regulated products are safe, effective, and secure for ultimately improving the public health of populations at home and abroad. Before her current position, Dr. atarseh was a review scientist at the Office of Food Additive Safety with The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition/FDA; a primary investigator at the National Center for Toxicological Research; a lecturer/researcher of toxicology at Eastern Michigan University; toxicology assistant professor at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Jordan and a researcher at the Center for Water and Environment Studies and Research, and a lecturer at the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Jordan. Dr. Batarseh has a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor; an M.Sc. in Environmental Health Sciences from the same university; an M.Sc. and a B.Sc. in Biology and a Science Teaching Diploma from the American University of Beirut/Lebanon.



International Outreach to Foreign Embassies