Doctor, anthropologist and former leader of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS unit Jim Yong Kim has been nominated by US President Barack Obama to lead the World Bank.
“The leader of the World Bank should have a deep understanding of both the role that development plays in the world, and the importance of creating conditions where assistance is no longer needed. I believe that nobody is more qualified to carry out that mission than Dr. Jim Kim,” Obama said in announcing the nomination today.
Kim is president of Dartmouth College. In the 1990s, he worked with the health-and-human-rights organization Partners in Health to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Peru. He won a Macarthur Genius Grant in 2003. At the World Health Organization (WHO), whose HIV/AIDS unit he led from 2004–6, Kim launched the “3-by-5” initiative, which aimed to get antiretroviral drugs to 3 million people by 2005. The goal wasn’t met until 2007, but Kim told Nature Medicine in 2008 that the initiative was worthwhile:
“Many analysts have suggested that the momentum that was gained by ‘3 by 5’ really led to the achievement of ‘3 by 7’. Missing by two years is about as well as the WHO has ever done in reaching a global target,” he said. (Read the full Nature Medicine interview here).
Kim was not one of the people widely thought to be in the running for the World Bank post. His nomination has so far drawn mostly positive, but some negative, reviews.
Kim’s background in poor countries and in global health may “partly insulate” him from criticism raised by groups that want to end the tacit agreement by which the United States typically picks the head of World Bank, wrote the New York Times.
One other nominee, Nigerian finance minister and former World Bank Official Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been put forward, and nominations close this evening, reports the Times, which says that Obama’s nomination makes Kim the front-runner for the post.
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