Michael R. Reich, PhD, Taro Takemi Professor of International Health Policy, Emeritus 


GHP 200, 2022 Fall 1, Doing Health Reform Better, Tues/Thurs 09:45 AM – 11:15 AM

Dr. Reich is teaching  GHP 200: Doing Health Reform Better, starting on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. Here is a copy of the course syllabus for the previous year, for review.

This course provides an introduction to the analysis of health systems and the processes of health reform, with attention to the technical, political, and ethical aspects of “doing health reform better,” and a focus on low-income and middle-income countries. The course is structured around the analytical framework of five policy levers of financing, payment, organization, regulation, and persuasion, as critical determinants of health system performance. The course uses different pedagogical formats, including lectures, interactive large-group discussions, case studies, and small group projects. The overall objective is to provide a practical approach for diagnosing the causes of disappointing health system performance, and devising implementable reforms to improve the level and equity of performance—in short, doing health reform better.


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

Dr. Reich has published many studies on the political economy of health policy (download some of his political economy publications here). For example, in 2020, he coauthored a paper on the politics of the passage of the sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Mexico, with Erin James and Martin Lajous. He also published an article on the political economy of noncommunicable diseases, as part of a special issue in Health Systems & Reform on the Political Economy of Health Financing Reform, sponsored by the World Health Organization. The special issue included an article on “Political Analysis for Health Policy Implementation,” written by Dr. Reich with Paola Abril Campos. “A Guide to Applied Political Analysis for Health Reform” (also by Reich and Campos) was released in July 2020 as a Working Paper from the India Health Systems Research Project, directed by Professor Winnie Yip. Other publications address the political economy of nutrition policy (with Yarlini Balarajan), on tobacco control (with Jesse Bump), on health financing reform (with Ashley Fox), and on a rapid assessment method for assessing the political feasibility of policy reform (with Ashley Fox and Yarlini Balarajan).  In May 2014, he co-organized a workshop at Bellagio on the Political Economy of Global Health.

Dr. Reich has worked on health systems issues with colleagues at Harvard for over three decades, and has served as faculty director of the World Bank Flagship Course on Health Sector Reform and Sustainable Financing. 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; 15th anniversary edition 2019 with new preface). He is also founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Health Systems & Reform, whose first issue was published in January 2015; the journal has completed eight years of publication. Journal articles are available open access; for the current issue click here. In 2020, he published an analysis of Mexico’s major restructuring of its health system.

Dr. Reich has been engaged with health policy issues in Japan for over four decades. 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).

During 2008 and 2009, Dr. Reich collaborated 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.  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 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. In 2015 and 2016, he assisted the Japan Global Health Working Group prepare its proposals on “protecting human security” for the G7 Summit in 2016; the summary paper was published in the Lancet. In 2018, he served as facilitator for the International Advisory Group (IAG) on Global Health of the Japan Center for International Exchange to propose global health agenda items for the Japanese government to consider for the G20 meeting in Japan in 2019, reported here.

Dr. Reich published a paper on pandemic governance in Japan and the United States. In July 2021, he published an article with Professor Andrew Gordon of Harvard on “The Puzzle of Vaccine Hesitancy in Japan,” examining the history of social reactions to vaccines in Japan over the past 150 years .

Dr. Reich has examined many policy issues related to access to medicines in developing countries (download selected publications here). 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). In 2011, he coauthored a book (with M.J. Roberts) called Pharmaceutical Reform: A Guide to Improving Performance and Equity (downloadable for free from the World Bank). He served as a member of the Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines Policies, which published its report in November 2016.

Since the early 1990s, Dr. Reich has worked with David Cooper to develop a Windows-based software program for applied political analysis. 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). The method has been used to analyze health reform issues in many countries, in collaboration with national governments, international agencies, and civil society organizations.

For a list of Dr. Reich’s selected publications (with many available to download), click here. You can also visit his personal website.

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 of papers presented at the symposium was published in April 2015 (called Governing Health Systems). The 35th Anniversary Symposium for the Takemi Program was held in Tokyo in February 2018. For more information on the Takemi Program, click here.

On July 1, 2021, Dr. Reich became the Taro Takemi Professor of International Health Policy, Emeritus. He will be in residence at Harvard during the fall semester of 2023-24, teaching GHP 200 on “Doing Health Reform Better” (see above); his Winter Session field course on the Mexican health system (GHP544, taught with Dr. Martin Lajous) is scheduled for January 2024. He will be working remotely during the spring semester 2024.

In November 2016, Dr. Reich received the Award for Lifetime Service to the Field of Health Policy and Systems Research from the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research and from Health Systems Global.


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

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

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