Faculty Profile: Omar Galarraga, Ph.D.

Omar Galarraga
Omar Galarraga, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Health Services Policy & Practice
Public Health-Health Services Policy & Practice
Work: +1 401-863-2331
Dr. Galárraga's current research focuses on three main areas of applied health economics and health services research: (1) how conditional economic incentives may be best utilized to improve the prevention and treatment of HIV, and other chronic diseases; (2) the health and labor market effects of economic and social programs in Mexico and Kenya; and (3) the economic efficiency and financing of HIV treatment and prevention programs worldwide.


Omar Galarraga, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at Brown University School of Public Health, Department of Health Services, Policy and Practice, and Faculty Associate at: Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research; International Health Institute(IHI); Population Studies and Training Center (PSTC); and Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). During 2006-2010 he was Assistant Professor and Researcher in Health Economics at the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and at the Institute of Business and Economic Research (IBER) at the University of California, Berkeley. During 1999-2001 he worked for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr. Galarraga is the PI for NIH-financed projects on conditional economic incentives for prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in populations at high risk. Other areas of research include the evaluation of Mexico's Seguro Popular (the Social Health Insurance program) and Kenya's National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). He analyzes the impact of the programs on various health outcomes using econometric methods to estimate treatment effects.

Dr. Galarraga obtained his doctorate in Health Economics at the Johns Hopkins University (Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management). He has been a consultant for the World Bank, UNAIDS, World Health Organization, the World Food Program, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Boston University, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation working with large datasets on modeling, cost-effectiveness and quantitative evaluation of health interventions as well as projections of demand and future funding for global HIV prevention and treatment programs.

Research Description

* Conditional Economic Incentives for Treatment and Prevention of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections
My current research focuses on three main areas of applied health economics and health services research. First, funded by the NIH (Fogarty International Center and NICHD), I am analyzing conditional economic incentives for HIV prevention among populations at high risk in Mexico City. I would like to continue exploring the potential effectiveness of economic incentives to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in Mexico, and, if results are encouraging, in other countries with concentrated epidemics as well. Prevention efforts for populations at high-risk have not sufficiently reduced the incidence of HIV. The idea of economic incentives to reduce risk and vulnerability in men who have sex with men, and male sex workers, has not been addressed through experimental approaches.

* Estimating Treatment Effects for Economic and Social Programs
Second, I am investigating the effects of health systems' reform (Seguro Popular or "Popular Health Insurance") on various outcomes including obstetric care, diabetes treatment and control, and catastrophic & out-of-pocket health expenditures. Health systems reform is an important topic of research in Mexico and other countries because of the need to expand treatment and prevention services, improve quality, and contain costs. I would like to continue exploring both experimental and non-experimental approaches to evaluating health reform, particularly health financing initiatives.

* Economic Efficiency and Financing of HIV Programs
A third area of research is my work on costs and cost-effectiveness analysis using literature reviews and large datasets for modeling and quantitative evaluation of health interventions as well as projections of future demand and funding for global HIV prevention and treatment programs. This work has been conducted with financing from several sources including: the World Health Organization; UNAIDS; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis; and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Grants and Awards

* Summa Cum Laude, University of DC, 1994
* National Competitive Exam (NCE) Professional, United Nations, 1998
* Department Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University, 2001-2003
* Health Economics Fellowship, NIH / NIMH, 2003-06
* Phi Beta Kappa, Johns Hopkins University, 2006
* Mexican National Researchers System(honorary) 2007-2012
* International Research Scientist Development Award (IRSDA, K-01), NIH / FIC, 2008-2011
* NIH Exploratory/Development Award (R21), NIH, NICHD, 2011-14


* Academy Health (Health Economics Interest Group)
* American Economic Association (AEA)
* American Public Health Association (APHA)
* American Society for Health Economists (ASHE)
* International AIDS Society (IAS)
* International Health Economics Association (iHEA)
* International HIV/AIDS Economics Network (IAEN)
* Population Association of America (PAA)

Funded Research

Brown University / CISIDAT AC (NIH, R-21)
6/16/2011 - 6/15/2013
Pilot randomized trial offering conditional economic incentives (CEI) to stay free of sexually transmitted infections among men who have sex with men at high risk of HIV infection, including male sex workers (MSW) in Mexico City, to test feasibility and acceptability, and to gather preliminary evidence on effects sizes. CEI are an innovative structural approach for HIV prevention, which so far has not been tested in concentrated epidemic settings.
Role: PI. Co-Investigators: Sandra G. Sosa-Rubí, Don Operario, Kenneth Meyer
Amount: $179,636

Brown University / INSP (NIH,K-01) 12/16/2010 – 10/15/2011
Conditional Cash Transfers to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections in Mexico
Study on willingness to accept cash transfers conditional on being free of sexually transmitted infections in key populations in Mexico, including men who have sex with men, and male sex workers in Mexico City. Contingent valuation techniques; econometric analyses, and cost effectiveness evaluation. International Research Scientist Development Award, IRSDA, Fogarty International Center, US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Role: Principal Investigator (PI), Mentors: Stefano Bertozzi and Paul Gertler.
Amount: $75,000 per year.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / Global Fund 06/01/2009 – 5/30/2010
An Analysis of the Global Fund Financing Scenarios
Study on the potential scenarios for short- and medium-term financing for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GF). The report and forecasting model assess future contributions, global needs and potential reallocation of resources to maximize health outcomes in the countries with Global Fund financing. Literature review on: ART unit costs and economic impact (absenteeism, productivity, human resources. Role: PI. Amount: $110,000.

UC Berkeley / Program for Migration Studies 10/16/2008 – 10/15/2010
Binational Health Insurance: U.S. - Mexico
Study on binational health insurance between U.S. and Mexico: Econometric analysis of data from private U.S. providers and nationally representative Mexican data. Role: Co-PI (with William H. Dow). Amount: $25,000.

UNAIDS 01/16/2008 – 01/15/2009
Review of the Literature on Cost Effectiveness Studies
The literature review on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and orphan/vulnerable children to identify, evaluate and summarize findings of studies. Role: PI. Amount: $35,000.

UC Berkeley / INSP (NIH, R01) 09/31/2004 – 08/31/2008
Poverty, health and adolescent risk behavior in Mexico
Use of econometric methods (including instrumental variables) to analyze the effects of participation in a conditional cash transfer program (OPORTUNIDADES), and the level of transfers, on adolescent risk behaviors such as consumption of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and unprotected sexual intercourse.
Role: Consultant. (PI: Paul J. Gertler)

INSP / Mexican Ministry of Health 2007 & 2009
Evaluation of the Mexican Universal Insurance Program
Evaluated the performance of the Seguro Popular; estimated the effect of the program on catastrophic and out-of-pocket expenditures using experimental and non-experimental methods.
Role: Consultant.

World Health Organization / UNAIDS 09/16/2006 – 01/15/2009
Forecasting active pharmaceutical ingredient amounts for antiretroviral treatment for HIV
Modeling of patient volume, treatment need and API requirements worldwide. Role: Co-PI (with Stefano Bertozzi). Amount: $27,500.

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and malaria 07/15/2006 – 01/31/2007
Analysis of the 360° Stakeholder Survey
Analyzed the 360° Stakeholder Survey to measure opinions and expectations of stakeholders of the Global Fund, and the economic implications. Role: Co-PI (with Stefano Bertozzi).

Teaching Experience

PHP 1910 Senior Seminar in Public Health
Topics: HIV/AIDS Disparities (2011); A Business Case for Prevention and Early Treatment (2012)
Students will develop a needs assessment relevant to specific public health topics at the local or global level; systematically review, synthesize, and critique a body of literature; use knowledge and tools from previous public health classes to pose a research question, and then find, create and manipulate data to perform appropriate analyses; interpret and present study results; and learn to work collaboratively towards a specific public health research goal.

PHP 2430 Analysis of Population-Based Datasets
Health services, epidemiologic, and social research often conducts "secondary analysis" of existing population-based datasets. Benefits include their representative sampling frames allowing generalizability to larger populations, timeliness, and lower cost. In addition, computer technology makes it possible to link some databases providing richer sources of information.

PHP 2480 Selected Topics in Global Health Economics
This course introduces students to specific issues, theory and practice of health economics at the global level. It covers first research papers on econometric methods in global health including: field experiments, instrumental variables, propensity score matching and regression discontinuity. The second part of the course reviews topics such as: conditional economic incentives for providers and consumers, social health insurance, public goods, and externalities.

Courses Taught

  • Analysis of Population-Based Datasets (PHP2430)
  • Senior Seminar: HIV Disparities (PHP1910)
  • Topics in Global Health Economics (PHP2480)

Selected Publications

  • Galárraga O, Sosa-Rubí SG, Infante C, Gertler PJ, Bertozzi SM. 2014. Willingness-to-accept reductions in HIV risks: conditional economic incentives in Mexico. European Journal of Health Economics. Jan;15(1):41-55. (2014)
  • Alarid-Escudero F, Sosa-Rubí SG, Fernández B, Galárraga O. "Análisis de Costo-beneficio: Prevención del VIH en Poblaciones Móviles." [A Cost-Benefit Analysis: HIV Prevention in Mobile Central American Populations]. Salud Pública de México. 2013 Jul;55 Suppl 1:S23-30. Spanish (2013)
  • Fulton BD, Galárraga O, Dow WH. 2013. "Informing Public Policy Toward Binational Health Insurance: Empirical Evidence from California" [Políticas públicas hacia el aseguramiento en salud binacional: Evidencia empírica de California]. Salud Pública de México 55 (s4): S468-S476. (2013)
  • Galárraga O, Genberg BL, Martin RA, Barton Laws M, Wilson IB. "Conditional Economic Incentives to Improve HIV Treatment Adherence: Literature Review and Theoretical Considerations." AIDS Behav. 2013 Jan 31. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23370833. (2013)
  • Operario D, Kuo C, Sosa-Rubí SG, Galárraga O. "Conditional economic incentives for reducing HIV risk behaviors: Integration of Psychology and Behavioral Economics." Health Psychology. Sep 2013. 32(9):932-40 (2013)
  • Galarraga O, Wirtz VJ, Santa-Ana-Tellez Y, Korenromp EL. "Financing HIV programming: How much should low- and middle-income countries and their donors pay?" PLOS ONE. 2013 Jul 5;8(7):e67565. (2013)
  • Vitek WS, Galarraga O, Klatsky PC, Robins JR, Carson SA, Blazar AS. "Management of the first IVF cycle for unexplained infertility: A Cost Effectiveness Analysis of Split IVF-ICSI. Fertility and Sterility. 2013 Jul 19. doi:pii: S0015-0282(13)00735-8. (2013)
  • Rosen S, Larson B, Rohr J, Sanne I, Mongwenyana C, Brennan A, Galárraga O. 2013. "Effect of antiretroviral therapy on patients' economic well-being: five-year follow up in South Africa." AIDS. Sep 26. [Epub ahead of print] (2013)
  • Strohacker K, Galárraga O, Williams DM. 2013. "The Impact of Incentives on Exercise Behavior: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials." Annals of Behavioral Medicine Dec 5. [Epub ahead of print] (2013)
  • Thirumurthy H, Galárraga O, Larson B, Rosen S. "HIV Treatment Produces Economic Returns Through Increased Work And Education, And Warrants Continued US Support." Health Aff (Millwood). 2012 Jul;31(7):1470-7. (2012)
  • Santa-Ana-Tellez Y, DeMaria LM, Galárraga O. 2011. "Costs of Interventions for AIDS-related Orphans and Vulnerable Children: A Systematic Review of the Literature." Tropical Medicine & International Health 16 (11): 1417–1426. (2011)
  • Galárraga O, Wirtz VJ, Figueroa-Lara A, Santa-Ana-Tellez Y, Coulibaly I, Virsai K, Medina-Lara A, and Korenromp E. 2011. "Unit Costs for Delivery of Antiretroviral Treatment and Prevention of Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV: A Systematic Review for Low- and Middle-Income Countries." PharmacoEconomics 29(7): 579-599. (2011)
  • Sosa-Rubí SG, Salinas A, Galárraga O. 2011. "Impacto del Seguro Popular en el Gasto Catastrófico y de Bolsillo en México Rural y Urbano, 2005-2008" [Impact of Popular Health Insurance on Catastrophic and Out of Pocket Expenditures in Rural and Urban Mexico, 2005-2008]. Salud Pública de México 53(S4):425-35. (2011)
  • Galárraga O, Sosa-Rubí SG, Salinas A, and Sesma, S. 2010. "Health Insurance for the Poor: Impact on Catastrophic and Out-of-pocket Health Expenditures in Mexico." European Journal of Health Economics 11(5):437-447. [Earlier version as HEDG/York University Working Paper 08/12] (2010)
  • Rosales-Martínez Y, Nigenda-López G, Galárraga O, Ruiz-Larios JA. 2010. [Migration Expectations among Nursing School students in Mexico City]. Salud Pública de México 52: 244-253. (2010)
  • Galárraga O, Salkever DS, Cook JA, Gange SJ. 2010. "An Instrumental Variables Evaluation of Antidepressant Use on Employment among HIV-infected Women using Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in the United States:1996 to 2004." Health Economics 19(2): 173-188. [Earlier version as NBER Working Paper w12619] (2010)
  • DeMaria LM, Galárraga O, Campero L, Walker DM. 2009. "Sex Education for HIV Prevention in Latin America & the Caribbean." Pan American Journal of Public Health 26 (6): 485-493. (2009)
  • Galárraga O, Colchero MA, Wamai R, Bertozzi SM. 2009. "HIV Prevention Cost Effectiveness: A Systematic Review." BMC Public Health 9 (Suppl 1):S5 (2009)
  • Sosa-Rubí SG, Galárraga O, López-Ridaura R. 2009. "Diabetes Treatment and Control: The Effect of Public Health Insurance for the Poor in Mexico." Bulletin World Health Organization 87(7): 512-519. (2009)
  • Sosa-Rubí SG, Galárraga O, Harris JE. 2009. "Heterogeneous Impact of the Seguro Popular Program on the Utilization of Obstetrical Services in Mexico, 2001-2006: A Multinomial Probit Model with a Discrete Endogenous Variable." Journal of Health Economics 28(1):20-34. [Earlier version as NBER Working Paper w13498] (2009)
  • Galárraga O, and Bertozzi SM. 2008. "Stakeholders' opinions and expectations of the Global Fund and their potential economic implications." AIDS 22 Suppl 1:S7-S15. (2008)
  • Galárraga O, O'Brien ME, Gutiérrez JP, Renaud-Thery F, Nguimfack BD, Beusenberg M, Waldman K, Soni A, Bertozzi SM, Greener R. 2007. "Forecast of demand for antiretroviral drugs in low and middle-income countries: 2007-2008." AIDS 21 Suppl 4:S97-S103. (2007)