Financing Common Goods for Health: Core Government Functions in Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management

David H. Peters, Odd Hanssen, Jose Gutierrez, Jonathan Abrahams, Tolbert Nyenswah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In the absence of good data on the costs and comparative benefits from investing in health emergency and disaster risk management (EDRM), governments have been reluctant to invest adequately in systems to reduce the risks and consequences of emergencies and disasters. Yet they spend heavily on their response. We describe a set of key functional areas for investment and action in health EDRM, and calculate the costs needed to establish and operate basic health EDRM services in low- and middle-income countries, focusing on management of epidemics and disasters from natural hazards. We find that health EDRM costs are affordable for most governments. They range from an additional 4.33 USD capital and 4.16 USD annual recurrent costs per capita in low-income countries to 1.35 USD capital to 1.41 USD recurrent costs in upper middle-income countries. These costs pale in comparison to the costs of not acting—the direct and indirect costs of epidemics and other emergencies from natural hazards are more than 20-fold higher. We also examine options for the institutional arrangements needed to design and implement health EDRM. We discuss the need for creating adaptive institutions, strengthening capacities of countries, communities and health systems for managing risks of emergencies, using “all-of-society” and “all-of-state institutions” approaches, and applying lessons about rules and regulations, behavioral norms, and organizational structures to better implement health EDRM. The economic and social value, and the feasibility of institutional options for implementing health EDRM systems should compel governments to invest in these common goods for health that strengthen national health security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-321
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Systems and Reform
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019


  • common goods for health
  • costing
  • emergency and disaster risk management
  • epidemic
  • health financing
  • institutional analysis
  • natural disaster

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Information Management


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