Peter Berman

Peter Berman

Professor of the Practice of Global Health Systems and Economics
Director, GHP Educational Initiatives

Department of Global Health and Population

Brief Bio

Prof. Peter Berman (M.Sc, Ph.D) is a health economist with almost forty years of experience in research, policy analysis and development, and training and education in global health.

Prof. Berman is Professor of the Practice of Global Health Systems and Economics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is the faculty director of HSPH’s Doctor of Public Health degree, director of education for global health and population at HSPH and actively engaged in graduate education reform in global public health at HSPH. Prof. Berman is also the advisor to the China National Health Development Research Center for health care financing and health accounts. He chairs the Financing Technical Working Group of the Countdown to 2015. Currently, Prof. Berman leads several innovative projects on developing primary care systems, strengthening service delivery, and improving health care financing mechanisms for better outcomes, with a focus on work in Ethiopia and India.

With the World Bank from 2004-2011, Prof. Berman spent four years in the Bank’s New Delhi office as Lead Economist for Health, Nutrition, and Population. There he oversaw a portfolio of almost $2 billion in projects and research. In Washington, D.C from 2008, he was Lead Health Economist in the HNP anchor department and Practice Leader for the World Bank’s Health Systems Global Expert Team. He led analytical work on health systems analysis and strategic approaches to improving service delivery.

Previously at Harvard Prof. Berman was Professor of Population and International Health Economics and founding Director of the International Health Systems Program (IHSP, see in the Population and International Health Department. He is the author or editor of five books on global health economics and policy more than 50 academic papers in his field and numerous other working papers and reports. He has led and/or participated in major field programs in all regions of the developing world.

Prof. Berman’s specific areas of work include analysis of health systems performance and the design of reform strategies; assessment of the supply side of health care delivery and the role of private health care provision in health systems and development of strategies to improve outcomes through public-private sector collaboration. He pioneerd the development and use of national health accounts as a policy and planning tool in developing countries. Prof. Berman has worked extensively on health system reform and health care development issues in a number of countries, including Egypt, India, Colombia, Indonesia, and Poland, including extended periods of residency and field work in Indonesia and India. He is co-author of Getting Health Reform Right: A Guide to Improving Performance and Equity (Roberts, et al, Oxford University Press, 2003), co-editor of the Guide to the Production of National Health Accounts (World Bank, World Health Organization, and USAID, 2003), and co-editor of Berman and Khan, Paying for India’s Health Care (Sage, 1993).

Research Highlights

Strategies for health system reform to improve outcomes.  Prof. Berman worked together with colleagues at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to develop a widely recognized framework for health systems that has been taught to about 20,000 course participants from middle and lower income countries in collaboration with the World Bank. He has applied this framework in studying health systems performance and designing reform strategies in Egypt, Poland, and India. Currently he is working on the development of better methods for Health Systems Analysis.

Berman, P. and R. Bitran (2011) “Health Systems Analysis for Better Health Systems Strengthening” HNP Discussion Paper, The World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Roberts, M. Hsiao, W., Berman, P. and M. Reich (2003) Getting Health Reform Right: A Guide to Improving Performance and Equity, Oxford.

Berman, P. (ed.) Health Sector Reform in Developing Countries: Making Health Development Sustainable. Harvard Series on Population and International Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University Press, 1995, Boston. Appeared as special issue of Health Policy, 32(1-3), 1995.


Analysis of the supply side of health care systems. Dr. Berman has led path-breaking work to improve understanding of health care delivery in developing countries. This has included studies of community health workers, the scale and scope of non-government health care delivery, and the organization of health care provision systems in developing countries. Some relevant publications include:

Berman, P. , Pallas, S., Smith, A., Curry, L. and E. H. Bradley (2011), “Improving the Delivery of Health Services: A Guide to Choosing Strategies” HNP Discussion Paper, The World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Berman, P. (2000) “Organization of Ambulatory Health Care Services: A Critical Determinant of Health System Performance” Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 78(6):791-802, 2000.

Berman, P. (1998) “Rethinking Health Care Systems: Private Health Care Provision in India” World Development, 26 (8): 1463-1479.

Berman, P. and M. Chawla “A Model for Analyzing Strategic Use of Government Financing to Improve Health Care Provision” Partnerships for Health Reform, Harvard School of Public Health, April 1999.

Berman, P. (1997) “Supply-side Approaches to Optimizing Private Health Sector Growth” in Newbrander, W. (ed.) Private Health Sector Growth in Asia: Issues and Implications, Wiley, New York, 1997.

Berman, P., D. Gwatkin, and S. Burger.(1987) “Community-based Health Workers: Head Start or False Start Towards Health for All,” Social Science and Medicine, 25(5):443-459, 1987.


Research on health care financing and development and application of national health accounting (NHA) methods in developing countries. Prof. Berman originated the “Harvard method” for national health accounting in lower income countries and has initiated the development of regional networks for NHA development in Latin America, the Middle East, and East and Southern Africa. He developed “National Health Accounts v. 1.01 and v. 2” (Berman and Cooper, authors), a Windows-based software program to assist in training, data organization, and data analysis that has been widely used. Prof. Berman co-authored the leading manual for health accounting in developing countries for WHO, the World Bank, and USAID, promoting a common global methodology for NHA and practical guidelines for its application in lower income countries. He has applied NHA methods to health financing analysis in Egypt, Turkey, India, Poland, and other countries and developed a health finance projection model based on the NHA framework.

World Bank, World Health Organization, and U.S. Agency for International Development,  A Guide to Producing National Health Accounts, 2003. (Project coordinator, co-author, and technical editor with Dan Waldo)

Berman, P. and D. Cooper. National Health Accounts V. 1.0 and 2.0. Partnerships for Health Reform, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 2000.

Berman, P., R. Ahuja, L. Bhandari (2010), “The Impoverishing Effects of Health Care Payments in India: New Methodology and Findings” Economic and Political Weekly XLV:16 pp 65-71, April 17, 2010.

Berman, P. and R. Ahuja (2008) “Government Health Spending in India” Economic and Political Weekly, 43:26/27, June 28 – July 11, 2008.

Berman, P. (1997)“National Health Accounts in Developing Countries: Appropriate Methods and Recent Applications”, Health Economics, 6(1):11-30, 1997.


M.Sc., Ph.D., 1984, Cornell University