Kim's resignation renews call for change to Middle-Income designation

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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At least one Foundation has welcomed the resignation of World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim, arguing that his departure offers the World Bank an opportunity to re-evaluate a controversial process that determines which countries are considered middle income and low- ncome based on an arbitrary gross national income (GNI) per capita criterion.

Kim's resignation comes three years prior to the end of his appointment.

A release issued by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) noted that the Foundation has, over the last five years, advocated for the “Raise the Middle-in Countries” (MIC) campaign which calls on the World Bank to stop classifying developing countries as middle income — where an individual's daily income can be as low as $2.73 — or about as much as a cup of coffee in a wealthy country.

Although in terms of GNI per capita mere cents can distinguish low-income countries (LIC) from MIC, AHF is of the view that MICs must pay substantially higher prices for essential pharmaceuticals and receive far less development assistance from funders like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

“As someone who has often touted his roots in the activist community, Jim Kim's refusal to change the World Bank's unfair and immoral definition of middle-income countries is a terrible disappointment and a missed opportunity,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “Developing countries throughout the world are struggling to provide medicines and health care to people who are dying every day from diseases that are 100 per cent treatable and preventable, like HIV/AIDS and TB. It's time for someone to take the helm at the World Bank who will ensure vital support gets to the people who need it most.”

According to Weinstein, MICs are now home to 75 per cent of the world's poor people and two-thirds of people globally living with HIV — a virus that still kills almost one million people annually. While the international poverty line is set at US$1.90 per day, the lower end of the MIC income bracket is only US$.83 above that meagre daily wage.

AHF has argued that a daily income per capita should be set no lower than US$10 to be realistically commensurate with a middle-income lifestyle, which allows for disposable income beyond barebones subsistence.

AHF urged the World Bank and its next president to seize this opportunity with Dr Kim's early departure to address its classification system that keeps the world's sick and disadvantaged from accessing the health care and resources they need.

“The world is at a tipping point in its response to HIV/AIDS and the Bank needs a leader with the courage to challenge the alarming pullback in development aid and do what is necessary to truly end poverty and the treatable diseases that follow,” the AHF said.

AHF is the world's largest AIDS organisation, currently providing medical care and/or services to over one million people in 43 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Asia-Pacific Region and Eastern Europe.

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