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Remembering Philip Musgrove

March 22nd, 2011

Health Affairs journal announced today that Deputy Editor Philip A. Musgrove, 70, an economist and leading expert in global health and a cherished colleague, died in a tragic boating accident at Iguazu Falls in Argentina on Monday, March 21, 2011.  He is survived by his wife, Rosa Amalia Viana Musgrove; three children, Antonina Musgrove, Anthony Gordan Viana Musgrove, and Marilia Elizabeth Viana Musgrove; his brother, John Gordan Musgrove, and his sister-in-law Kathryn H. Musgrove, MD, of Houston Texas. He is also mourned by his many friends and colleagues and his close companion, Elinor Schwartz, who was injured in the boating accident.

“Words can’t express our shock and grief at the loss of Phil,” said Health Affairs editor-in-chief Susan Dentzer.   “His expertise in the economics of global health and development was profound.  He was a generous and caring colleague, who always had a moment to help anyone on our team grapple with any economic or statistical issue.  We were all the beneficiaries of his talents, wisdom, and friendship, and will miss him utterly.”

Health Affairs’ executive editor, Don Metz, added, “Phil’s passing is a terrible loss to his family, the journal, and the health policy community. Phil had deep knowledge of many subjects, but what I’ll remember most is his generous nature and his deep commitment to improving the lives of others through his work as an economist and editor.”

Readers are encouraged to share their memories of Phil through comments on this post and on a memorial website established by Health Affairs.

Phil, who lived in Rockville, MD, joined Health Affairs in 2005 as a deputy editor in charge of global health coverage, which has been largely supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. From 2002-05, Phil worked as an editor at the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health on the Disease Control Priorities Project. Prior to that, he was a principal economist at the World Bank, from which he retired in 2002. He was especially expert in health systems in Latin America, serving from 1990-92 in the Bank’s Technical Department, Latin America and Caribbean Region, and in 1992-93 on the Bank’s World Development Report.  From early 1996 to mid-1998 he worked in the Bank’s Resident Mission in Brasilia, Brazil.  In 1999-2001 he was seconded by the Bank to the World Health Organization, where he worked as editor on the World Health Report 2000 – Health Systems: Improving Performance.

From 1982 to 1990 Musgrove was Advisor in Health Economics at the Pan American Health Organization.  Before joining PAHO, he was a Consultant to the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study, and before that, from 1966‑68 and again from 1971‑80, Technical Coordinator in the ECIEL Program of Joint Studies of Latin American Economic Integration and a member of the staff of the Brookings Institution.  In 1977-78, he was a Research Associate with Resources for the Future.  He has taught full time (as visiting professor) at the University of Florida, and part time at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, George Washington University, and American University.

Phil also lectured, sometimes at the invitation of the US State Department, at numerous Latin American universities and research institutions.  Among his publications are: Consumer Behavior in Latin America (Brookings Institution, 1978); The General Theory of Gerrymandering (Sage, 1977); Fighting Malnutrition: Evaluation of Brazilian Food and Nutrition Programs (World Bank, 1989); Feeding Latin America’s Children (World Bank, 1991); Public and Private Roles in Health: Theory and Financing Patterns (World Bank, 1996); and more than 50 articles in economics and health journals and chapters in 20 books.

Phil was co‑author of Natural Resources in Latin American Economic Development (with Joseph Grunwald; Johns Hopkins, 1970); Income and Demographic Effects on the Structure of Consumer Expenditure in the US, 1975‑2025 (with Adele Shapanka; Resources for the Future, 1982); and Investing in Health: World Development Report 1993 (with several colleagues; World Bank, 1993). He was editor and co‑author of Ingreso, Desigualdad y Pobreza en América Latina (ECIEL Program, 1983) and Health Economics: Latin American Perspectives (Pan American Health Organization, 1989), and editor-in-chief and co-author of the World Health Report 2000 – Health Systems: Improving Performance (with several colleagues, World Health Organization, 2000).

Phil received the PhD in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974, following studies at Haverford College (BA, mathematics, 1962) and Princeton University (MPA, public affairs, 1964).

Phil’s keen eye and his expertise in observing international health systems gave him insight into the importance of health and health care worldwide.  In a 2006 Narrative Matters article in Health Affairs, Phil wrote of how he had rescued an American man who was having a heart attack and driven him to a hospital emergency department. He was appalled when a hospital staff member asked, almost immediately, “Who’s going to pay for him? Does he have insurance?” “The United States mostly manages to provide emergency care, but there’s no uniform system to guarantee that it happens, let alone to ensure that everyone is covered for nonemergency medical needs,” Phil wrote in his Narrative Matters article. “In any comparison of health systems, the United States stands out at the extreme end of the spectrum, and not in a good way.”

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2 Responses to “Remembering Philip Musgrove”

  1. global health diplomat Says:

    I first met Phil Musgrove in Geneva, when I was just entering into the world of global health. I later got to know him better through his significant other, Elinor Schwartz, one of my oldest friends.
    When I left the diplomatic service, I started writing an article on diplomacy, polio and Northern Nigeria. Elinor urged me to share it with Phil. Just to have Phil read and comment was wonderful. He was so experienced and I still saw myself as new to the field of global health. Phil was enthusiastic and encouraged me to submit the article to Health Affairs for the annual issue devoted to global issues. When it was accepted it was a real thrill.
    I have turned to Phil at various times, to help me understand some question or other about health or economics. He was always generous to a fault with his time and always genuinely curious about what I was up to.
    Phil will be missed, by a world that needs more enthusiastic proponents for good health, but also by those, like me, he has encouraged and helped over the years. May he rest in peace.

  2. breachingblue Says:

    I am deeply saddened by this great loss. Dr. Musgrove was one of the most gifted professors I ever had. I took his course on the Economics of Public Health in the Fall of 2009 at Johns Hopkins SAIS. His approach was entirely about moving beyond memorization of facts to teach the student how to think critically with new concepts and apply them in novel situations. Dr. Musgrove succeeded at this like I’d never seen before. His attention to students both in and outside of class was also something quite rare. He’s a professor I will never forget and I hope to be even half as good when I one day teach myself. My condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

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