Former leader of global AIDS program reframes public health solutions at UGA lecture

Former leader of global AIDS program reframes public health solutions at UGA lecture

Athens, Ga. – Jim Yong Kim, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard’s School of Public Health, will introduce new ways of tackling worldwide public health challenges at the next “Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard” lecture at the University of Georgia on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

In the 4 p.m. event at the UGA Chapel, the MacArthur “genius” award winner will tell how his clinical experience in developing countries and administrative responsibilities at the World Health Organization led him to think differently about solving public health problems. This will be the substance of an address called “Bridging the Implementation Gap: Global Health Delivery.”

“Kim is using a ‘systems approach’ to public health, analogous to the approach being taken in many top biology laboratories,” said Patricia Thomas, Grady College’s Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism. “Systems analysis means looking at the whole cell, organism, or even public health system, and trying to understand how its many parts work together. This reverses the usual approach, where researchers may focus so intently on one part that they never contemplate the whole.”

Thousands of people die every day because global health programs lack the capacity to deliver life-saving interventions such as clean water, adequate food, vaccines and medical treatments. Kim advocates gathering, analyzing and widely disseminating a comprehensive body of practical, actionable insights that will make global health delivery more effective.

His message is a provocative one for students, because Kim wants to educate a new generation of global health “master implementers.” He envisions these experts not only as researchers but also as creators of field-based innovation centers that will be living laboratories for implementation science. He is also working toward a web-based “community of practice” that allows practitioners to tap databases and experts half a world away, collaborating to solve immediate problems.

“The web-based ‘community of practice’ is an innovative idea,” Thomas said. “He will probably talk about using laptops and PDA’s to connect doctors in the field with academic experts.”

Kim is a professor and chair of the department of social medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is also the chief of the division of social medicine and health inequalities at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

In 2002, Kim took a three-year leave of absence from Harvard and joined the leadership team at the World Health Organization in Geneva. After one year as a top advisor to WHO’s director general, Kim was tapped to oversee all of the organization’s HIV/AIDS activities. He focused on prevention and on novel treatment strategies, including the “3×5” initiative designed to put three million people in developing countries on AIDS treatment by the end of 2005.

Kim has spent 20 years working to improve health in developing countries. He is a founding trustee and the former executive director of Partners in Health, a non-profit organization that operates clinics and other programs in Haiti, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi and the United States.

A reception at Demosthenian Hall follows the lecture, sponsored by Grady College’s Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases.

Upcoming “Voices of the Vanguard” speakers include the Carter Center’s Frank Richards, on March 18, and Anne DeGroot, from Brown University, on April 15. For additional information, see www.grady.uga.edu/knighthealth