The World Bank and the Health of Nations

For nearly 70 years, the World Bank has been an institution led by bankers, economists, technocrats and politicians - until now. Obama's inspired choice of Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College, as his pick to head the World Bank has the potential to change our paradigm for world economic development. While largely unknown to many inside Washington political circles, Kim was recently named as the 9th most creative thinker in business by Fast Company magazine. Even more importantly, Kim has a background in global health policy and has dedicated his life to working for the world's poor through organizations such as Partners in Health. For the first time ever, a health care expert will be at the helm of one of the world's most influential economic institutions.


The development paradigm for the past half-century has been that wealth inevitably leads to health, and that only wealthier economies are able to foster the conditions for a healthier population. Led by economists and bankers, international development efforts typically start with efforts to jump-start economic growth, with the belief that a rising economic tide will help to eradicate disease and illness. From this perspective, it's tempting to think of Kim's work in creating healthcare solutions for the poorer nations of the world as being uniquely applicable only to emerging markets.

But what if we flip the paradigm? What if health should become the starting point for international development, and that healthy populations should become the fundamental building block for healthy economies? Instead of The Wealth of Nations, what if we really should be talking about The Health of Nations?

There is, indeed, a sub-genre of economics and growth theory that makes exactly this point: that a population's individual and collective health affects a nation's economic development and performance. Kim's academic and health care credentials would suggest that he is potentially receptive to this framework. A physician and expert in tuberculosis, Kim served as Professor of Medicine and Social Medicine and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In addition, Kim helped to orchestrate many of the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS initiatives. He has dedicated his entire career to helping the world's poor in places like Haiti and Rwanda and has been lauded by the likes of former President Clinton for his work with the Clinton Global Initiative.

Certainly, that had to be part of Obama's political calculus of appointing Jim Yong Kim as his choice to become the new head of the World Bank. Obama chose Kim over a more conservative pick, such as economist Jeffrey Sachs, who openly lobbied for the job based on his previous development work in emerging markets. The deciding variable had to be Kim's unique perspective as a healthcare expert. Writing in The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith noted that, "No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable." Indeed - that appears to be exactly the basis for the new World Bank paradigm, in which a physician is better able to lead a Bank than a banker. International development is a tool for world health, yes, but maybe world health is a tool for international development as well.

image: Female Doctor Holding Piggy Bank / Shutterstock

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored

22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

content.jwplatform.com
Videos
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less