New World Bank Chief Jim Yong Kim, who succeeded Robert Zoellick as World Bank president on Sunday, has unveiled a five-point plan which he says will help fight disease and poverty.
The plan, a “model of care” devised in 1987 by Kim’s nonprofit Partners in Health, will aim to help developing nations keep growing at what is a traumatic time for the world economy. In an e-mail to World Bank staff obtained by Bloomberg News, Kim stated:
“We begin our work together at a crucial moment. My immediate priority will be to intensify the Bank Group’s efforts to help developing countries protect growth and jobs.”
The 52-year-old Kim, the former president of Dartmouth College and a physician by training, has entered his new job as a European debt crisis and a slowdown in China threatens to further destabilize a world economy he says “remains vulnerable.” To this end, his poverty-fighting five-point plan involves:
>>Providing universal access to primary health care. President and executive director of Partners In Health (PIH) Ophelia Dahl argues this would reduce the cost of healthcare. She points out how that treating diseases becomes easier when the whole person is cared for.
>>Making healthcare and education free to the poor. Dahl points out that poor people will avoid even paying a dollar or two for their healthcare and education. The answer, in Kim’s plan? make it free.
>>Hiring and training community health workers. And not only hiring and training them, but paying them, says Dahl. She notes that this does not have to be costly: in Rwanda, for example, community health workers are paid $240 a year.
>>Fighting disease means fighting poverty. Dahl again: “We realized that you can give people access to vaccines and medicines, but if they have no access to food, it’s crazy.”
>> Partnering with local and national governments.
Since becoming president, Kim has opened a site, ‘Ask Jim Kim,’ to receive questions and suggestions from people around the world.