Michael Reich

Michael Reich

Taro Takemi Professor of International Health Policy


Dr. Reich’s research program addresses the political dimensions of public health policy. His current interests include health system strengthening and reform, access to medicines and pharmaceutical policy, and the political economy of policy-making processes.

Dr. Reich has worked on health systems issues with colleagues at Harvard for over two decades, and is a core faculty member in the World Bank Flagship Course on Health Sector Reform and Sustainable Financing (recently serving as course director). As part of this collaboration, he coauthored a landmark book on health systems, Getting Health Reform Right: A Guide to Improving Performance and Equity (by M.J. Roberts, W. Hsiao, P. Berman, and M.R. Reich, Oxford, 2004). Recently, he became a founding Co-Editor-in-Chief of the new journal, Health Systems & Reform,  whose first issue was published in January 2015. All articles in the first four issues are available free access; for the current issue click here.

During 2008 and 2009, Dr. Reich worked on health systems issues with Prof. Keizo Takemi of Japan and his working group on global health to propose policy initiatives to the Japanese government for the G8 Summit held in Japan in July 2008. Their article in the Lancet in March 2008 (with M.J. Roberts and W.C. Hsiao) presented some of the core ideas on health system strengthening that were subsequently adopted by the G8 leaders at the summit, with a focus on health financing, health workforce, and health information. Dr. Reich’s collaboration on this project reflects his engagement with health policy issues in Japan extending back four decades. In 2010 and 2011, he collaborated in the research and writing of the Lancet‘s special issue on health in Japan, which was published on-line on August 30, 2011. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of Japan’s achievement of universal coverage 50 years ago, the challenges confronted today, and proposals for reform. He next worked with the Japan–World Bank Partnership Program on Universal Health Coverage, which published an 11-country comparative analysis of policy decisions and implementation processes for this policy area, in October 2014.

On April 29, 2015, the government of Japan announced in its Spring Honors List the award of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, to Professor Reich, for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of Japan’s policy for global public health as well as for advancing public health in Japan (click here).

Dr. Reich has examined many policy issues related to access to medicines in developing countries. In 2002, he edited a book on public-private partnerships for public health (distributed by Harvard University Press), with a focus on access to medicines for neglected tropical diseases. In 2008, he published a book (coauthored with Laura Frost) entitled Access: How Do Good Health Technologies Get to Poor People in Poor Countries? (distributed by Harvard University Press). The book provides an analytical framework for assessing access to health technologies and uses the framework to examine six case studies of different health technologies. The research and book were supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2011, he coauthored a book (with M.J. Roberts) called Pharmaceutical Reform: A Guide to Improving Performance and Equity. The book includes ten teaching cases on pharmaceutical policy reform, and is downloadable for free from the World Bank (click here). He recently was appointed as a member of the Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines Policies.

Dr. Reich has conducted various studies on the political economy of health policy reform. He recently published a commentary on the political economy of nutrition policy (with Yarlini Balarajan), an article on the political economy of tobacco control (with Jesse Bump), a chapter on the political economy of health financing reform (with Ashley Fox), and an article on using a rapid assessment method for assessing the political feasibility of policy reform (with Ashley Fox and Yarlini Balarajan). He also co-organized a workshop at Bellagio on the Political Economy of Global Health in May 2014; the report of this meeting was published in Health Systems & Reform. Over the past two decades, Dr. Reich has developed a Windows-based software program for applied political analysis (with David Cooper). This tool, called PolicyMaker, provides a computer-assisted guide for strategic political thinking about policy reform. The software is available for free on the internet (click here). Dr. Reich and collaborators have used the method to analyze health reform issues in many countries, in collaboration with national governments and international agencies.

For a list of Dr. Reich’s selected publications (with many available to download), click here.

Dr. Reich serves as Director of the Takemi Program in International Health, which held its 30th Anniversary Symposium in Boston on 11-12 October 2013. A book based on papers presented at the symposium was published in April 2015 (called Governing Health Systems). For more information on the Takemi Program, click here. Please note that Dr. Reich will be on sabbatical during the academic year of 2015-16.


Ph.D., 1981, Political Science, Yale University

M.A., 1975, East Asian Studies (Japan), Yale University

B.A., 1974, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale University