I am encouraged by President Obama's nomination of Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim, MD, PhD, to head the World Bank. A physician and anthropologist, Dr. Kim’s experience in global health would bring critically important insights to an institution that focuses on alleviating poverty. We can't achieve the Millennium Development goals or reduce poverty without addressing the fundamental importance of health.
Dr. Kim would be the first World Bank president with a significant background in global health. Together with Dr. Paul Farmer in 1987, he co-founded the nonprofit Partners in Health, which supports health
programs in poor communities globally. In the organization's Peru work, Dr. Kim helped develop a treatment program for the multiple-drug resistant form of tuberculosis and succeeded in his drive to lower the cost of the medications needed. He is a former director of the World Health Organization's Department of HIV/AIDS, where he led its first major effort to promote treatment for AIDS patients worldwide and helped developing countries scale up their treatment, prevention and care programs.
While accessible, high-quality medical treatment and care is critical to improving a country’s health, addressing the social determinants of health – such as education, environmental conditions and income inequality – is just as important to a country’s health status over the long term and, not surprisingly, its economic development.
I am confident that with his background, Dr. Kim is keenly aware of this interdependent relationship between health and economic development. If ultimately selected to head the World Bank, I am hopeful that Dr. Kim would serve as a forceful advocate for spurring improvements in health outcomes through poverty reductions.