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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim, and US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner listen while US President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. President Obama announced his nomination of Kim to succeed Robert Zoellick as President of the World Bank.
The best comment on President Obama's nomination of Dartmouth president Jim Yong Kim to lead the World Bank comes from Forbes' Tom Watson, who notes that the Korean-born Kim's career has been all about improving health care for the poor (as well as running an Ivy League university):
[I]t’s his stature as the co-founder of Partners In Health...that stands out. Partners in Health was founded 25 years ago and revolutionized the development world’s view of health initiatives in poor communities, stressing both respect for the poor and the need for strong preventive care. Known for its work in Haiti, Partners in Health pioneered its community-based health model in Russia, Rwanda, Peru, Lesotho, Burundi and other countries. It also works with poor HIV-AIDS patients in the Boston area.
The World Bank's job is supposed to be the eradication of poverty, but it's often critized for embodying the rich world's perceptions of the poor. Kim's nomination could be interpreted as a effort to break out of this problem while still retaining a primary U.S. role in governing the World Bank.
It's one thing to attack global poverty with money aimed at development; it's quite another to treat one of the consequences of poverty — poor health — which perpetuates the problem. If Kim brings this subtle change to the institution, he could have a major impact.