Harvard Global Equity Initiative Publications

HGEI has been the publisher of a number of volumes on topics ranging from global health financing to diaspora philanthropy to practical idealism and beyond.

HGEI books have been distributed by Harvard University Press.


Fall 2012

Closing the Cancer Divide: An Equity Imperative
Based on the work of the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries

Edited by: Felicia M. Knaul, Julie R. Gralow, Rifat Atun, Afsan Bhadelia

Cancer has become a leading cause of death and disability and a serious yet unforeseen challenge to health systems in low and middle income countries. A protracted and polarized cancer transition is underway and fuels a concentration of preventable risk, illness, suffering, impoverishment from ill health and death among poor populations – the Cancer Divide.

Closing the cancer divide is an equity imperative. The world faces a huge, and largely unperceived, cost of failure to take action and what is required is an immediate and large-scale global response to cancer.

This book presents strategies for innovation in delivery, pricing, procurement, finance, knowledge-building, and stewardship that can be scaled-up by applying a diagonal approach to health system strengthening. The chapters provide a roadmap of evidence-based recommendations for developing programs, local and global policy-making, and prioritizing research. The case studies and frameworks are a guide for developing appropriate responses to the chronicity that characterizes all new challenge diseases, including cancer, be they communicable or non-communicable in origin.

This book summarizes the results of the first two years of work of the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries, a broad collaboration among leaders from the global health and cancer care communities from around the world, convened by Harvard University. It includes contributions from civil society, global and national policy-makers, patients and practitioners, as well as leading academics representing an array of fields and countries.

Available for purchase at the Harvard University Press


Beauty without the Breast

Available for purchase at Harvard University Press and Amazon.

Originally published in Spanish as Tómatelo a Pecho

by Felicia Marie Knaul

Beauty without the Breast is a personal testimony of life with cancer, and at the same time both an appeal to the importance of the voice of women in securing better health and a call-to-action for expanded access to care and control in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

Felicia Knaul has dedicated her professional life to health and social development. After diagnosis in 2007 with breast cancer, she merged the personal with the professional to document her experience in a work that transmits her own journey. The story at once contrasts her difficult but inspiring experience with that of the majority of women throughout the world who face not only the challenge of the disease but also stigma, discrimination and lack of access to health care. This wrenching contrast is the cancer divide – an equity imperative in global health.

Beauty without the Breast lays bare many of the barriers that affect women in all parts of the world and highlights the role of men, the family and the community in responding to the challenge of breast cancer. The author candidly addresses through her own experience, issues of survivorship and life with the long-term effects of treatment and the chronic nature of the disease.

It is also a call-to-action that brings to light the unforeseen challenge to health and health systems of breast cancer in LMICs. Felicia, a health economist by training who has lived and worked for two decades in Latin America, also shares her journey as a professional in developing a better understanding of the burden of this disease and demonstrating the need to develop more effective policies to meet this challenge.

Available for purchase at Harvard University Press.


Health Financing in Latin America
Volume 1: Household Spending and Impoverishment

Edited by Felicia Marie Knaul, Rebeca Wong, Héctor Arreola-Ornelas

Based on the work of the Latin American Research Network on Equity and Health Systems

Published by the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, the Mexican Health Foundation and theInternational Development Research Centre.

Distributed by Harvard University Press.

Download and read the full volume.

Household Spending and Impoverishment is the work of twenty-six researchers from the Latin American Research Network on Equity and Health Systems (LAnetEHS) and conducted in collaboration with the program Competitiveness and Health of the Mexican Health Foundation and theInternational Development Research Centre of Canada.

One of the most serious challenges facing health systems in lower and middle income countries is establishing efficient, fair, and sustainable financing mechanisms that offer universal coverage. In Latin America, a region long characterized by inequitable and unequal access to healthcare services across populations, financial protection in health continues to be segmented and fragmented, and health is mainly financed through out-of-pocket payments. Lack of financial protection forces families to suffer the burden not only of illness, but also of economic ruin and impoverishment.

Household Spending and Impoverishment, Volume 1 of the Financing Health in Latin America series, analyzes the level and determinants of catastrophic health expenditures across 12 countries, and presents new and important insight into the crucial issue of financial protection in health in the region. The results demonstrate that out-of-pocket health spending is pushing large portions of the population into poverty and that the most vulnerable segments of society are also those at greatest risk of financial catastrophe due to health spending.

Available for purchase at the Harvard University Press