Michael Reich

Michael Reich

Taro Takemi Professor of International Health Policy

Department of Global Health and Population


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

A major area of Dr. Reich’s research examines access to medicines in developing countries. In 2002, he edited a book on public-private partnerships for public health (distributed by Harvard University Press). The volume includes case studies of partnerships involving specific diseases such as trachoma and river blindness, international organizations such as the World Health Organization, multinational pharmaceutical companies, and products such as medicines and vaccines. In an article in Science (2000), he analyzed how public policies can be designed to address the global drug gap, the disparity in access to medicines between rich and poor countries. 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).

During 2008 and 2009, Dr. Reich collaborated with Prof. Keizo Takemi of Japan and the Takemi Working Group on Challenges in Global Health to propose policy initiatives to the Japanese government for the G8 Summit held in Toyako, Hokkaido, 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. An overview paper on the G8 and health system strengthening by Reich and Takemi was published in the Lancet in January 2009, along with three policy papers on health financing, health workforce, and health information (published on the Lancet webpage). 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 landmark study provides a comprehensive analysis of Japan’s achievement of universal coverage 50 years ago, the challenges confronted today, and proposals for reform.

Dr. Reich has worked on health systems issues with colleagues at Harvard for two decades, and serves as a core faculty member for the World Bank Flagship Course on Health Sector Reform and Sustainable Financing. Based on these activities, he coauthored a book on health systems, entitled 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). He also leads the doctoral program on health systems (with an emphasis on political economy analysis) for the Department of Global Health and Population at HSPH.

Dr. Reich has conducted various studies on the political economy of health policy reform, in both developed and developing countries. He has recently published 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 a discussion paper on the political economy of food and nutrition security with a case study on India (with Yarlini Balarajan). He has developed an applied research tool (a Windows-based software program) for analyzing the political dimensions of public policy (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 applied the method for analyzing health reform issues in more than ten countries, in collaboration with national governments and international agencies, and the approach has been adopted by the UNFPA as a core competency in policy analysis for their country offices.

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

Dr. Reich also serves as Director of the Takemi Program in International Health, which will be holding its 30th Anniversary Symposium in Boston on 11-12 October 2013; for information on this program, click here.


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

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

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