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Bridging the Delivery Gap to Global Health

11/19/2007 12:00 PM Wong Auditorium
Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human Rights, Harvard Medical School; Board of Directors, Partners in Health

Description: Jim Yong Kim and Partners in Health are paradoxically suffering from their own success. They demonstrated over the past decade that it is possible to set up effective HIV and primary care clinics in such developing nations as Haiti, and that it's possible to cure multiple drug resistant tuberculosis. They even managed to persuade pharmaceutical companies to permit the production of generic, less expensive antiretroviral medicines so they could be affordable to the poorest people. But now, as billions of dollars flow into efforts to attack diseases that needlessly kill and maim the world's poor, we find ourselves "living in the middle of an implementation bottleneck," says Kim.

Whether from the Gates or Clinton Foundations, or from international government initiatives, money is flowing into new products like HIV/AIDS vaccines, TB vaccines, microbicides, anti"malarial drugs, and surgical services such as male circumcision. It could all "have a huge impact," says Kim, helping to forestall 10 million preventable deaths per year, but for the increasingly massive logjam in delivering all the care. Why is it so hard to distribute the expertise, technology, resources, to the people in need? There are all kinds of "just answers" that Kim gets: just align incentives; just make the markets work better; just fund infrastructures adequately; just give workers the management skills.

While he agrees that these are all relevant issues, Kim really wants an integrated response. He'd like to see medical schools like Harvard, where he's on staff, develop the kind of case studies commonly employed at business and engineering schools to dissect complex strategy problems. For instance, medical students today have no idea how smallpox was eradicated _ the story of this immense project combining management and epidemiology has been lost as a teaching tool. Just as Harvard Business School was "teaching the Jet Blue meltdown three weeks after it happened," so must medical schools capture current problems and approach them both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Kim calls on institutions like MIT Sloan to help devise new analytic frameworks for examining and improving global health delivery. "There's room for a whole new field, health care delivery science," says Kim, combining multiple disciplines, and developing leaders to advance evidence based strategies. We can't alleviate human suffering caused by disease "just being the lab, or by doing clinical research." It's now time "to build functioning health care systems everywhere in the world."

About the Speaker(s): Jim Yong Kim was director of the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS department, a post he was appointed to in March 2004 after serving as advisor to the WHO director"general. He oversaw all of WHO's work related to HIV/AIDS, focusing on initiatives to help developing countries scale up their treatment, prevention, and care programs, including the "3x5" initiative designed to put three million people in developing countries on AIDS treatment by the end of 2005.

Kim was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003; and was named one of America's 25 best leaders by US News & World Report in 2005; and one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2006. He was a contributing editor to the 2003 and 2004 World Health Report, and his edited volume Dying for Growth: Global Inequity and the Health of the Poor analyzes the effects of economic and political change on health outcomes in developing countries.

Kim trained dually as a physician and medical anthropologist. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Host(s): Sloan School of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

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