In July 2016, World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim delivered an inspiring and activating Joep Lange Institute lecture about tackling the global health challenges of our time.
After referencing the feats of activists like Martin Luther King, Joep Lange and the Act Up movement, Kim deliberately focused his attention on the activists of the future, confronting the audience with the ‘fierce urgency of now.’“There is a really high cost for not acting on issues that are right in front of us.”
Putting the importance of health into economic context, Kim stated that between 2000 and 2011, about 24% of the growth in full income of developing countries resulted from improvements in health. “Investments in human capital in developing countries are therefore the best investment we can make as this improves their ability to compete in the economies of the future.”
Lecture Transcript: Tackling the Global Health Threats of our Time He recalled the early days of HIV/AIDS, when treatment in Africa was deemed impossible. To the 25 million HIV-infected people in Africa, “99.9% of public health professionals were basically saying ‘Sorry, you’re dead.” This was according to Kim the mental model at that time. Joep Lange changed this mental model and showed that treatment was feasible. Kim further emphasized the need to leverage the power of the private sector and its financial mechanisms to reduce risk and overcome poverty. “The only morally defensible path is to try to create equal opportunity for everyone.”
Kim said optimism is a moral choice. “There is a really high cost for not acting on issues that are right in front of us.” Dr. Kim, still an activist at heart, left the audience with a simple question: What are you going to do?