Faculty Spotlight

Martine Bellanger: Multilingual Economist and Woman of Action

Published: May 21, 2011

Dr. Martine Bellanger, a professor of Health Economics at the EHESP French School of Public health, holds the position of Head of the MPH program in Paris, among other posts.  Being quite a pragmatic person and having been trained in quantitative methods, she enjoys discovering philosophical roots of economics – especially in the philosophy of action and the theory of valuation. Giving value to activities, time, resources as well as freedom of individuals and organizations is at the cornerstone of her courses and research. Such an approach is applicable to a variety of fields and in many contexts (as recalled by Amartya Sen in the Capability Approach) for acknowledging how people may act or access education, health, as well as political and civil rights. In addition to Sen, Dr. Bellanger is a fan of works by John Dewey, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Jean-Pierre Foucault, Paul Ricoeur, John Rawls, Donald Shön, Herbert Simons and of course, Adam Smith.

Dr. Bellanger’s passion for meeting new people and her ability to speak several languages play a significant role in facilitating her building international networks with academics, students and alumni. Her six-year volunteer work at the International Caritas between her MA and PhD (Economics) gave her the vision and certainty for a clear direction towards her future career, starting with economics per se and then moving onto economics in relation to public health.

Her main interests, in both research and academia, are in economic evaluation and economic analysis of health care reform in E.U member states. Currently, her particular focus is comparative analysis. She addresses questions related to funding health care, measuring health inequalities and evaluating public health programs. Presently, measuring efficiency in health care is becoming a growing research interest, particularly with hospital services and elderly care services.

Dr. Bellanger has been involved in European research groups linked to the London School of Economics (LSE) and to the European Health Management Association (EHMA) and has contributed to four European projects since 1999: The scientific evaluation of market forces in European Health systems (1999-2000), Analysing the impact of health system change in the EU member States (2001-2002), Mapping health services access – National and Cross-border Issues (2004-2006) and Health Benefits and Service Costs in Europe  – Health BASKET (2003-2007). She is currently working on a project related to measuring efficiency of hospital services in Europe: EURO-DRG project (2009 and 2012).

A range of economic theories and analyses could make contributions to the understanding of issues associated with resource allocation and organizational design in the health field.  The main focus of Dr. Bellanger’s current research is therefore to use economic models and methods to better understand the relationship between outcomes and different interventions, strategies, and regulations that occur in a given health system. In the last two years, one of the research projects being conducted has been measuring the impacts in terms of efficiency for inpatient care settings in twelve European countries, following a change in the payment system introduced in the new Millennium. There are two major points underlying the study. Firstly, would a common approach in terms of patient classification in Europe be feasible thus allowing the European health care systems to pay for hospital services on the same basis, as patients are increasingly likely to travel in the “health care market”? Secondly, to follow the economic evaluation of welfare that concentrates on both allocative efficiency and technical efficiency. The first part of the research is carried out at the European level, the second part, which also sheds light on resource allocation, is pursued with individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and examines the outcome of patient careers in three French regions. In France, about 6% of elderly people aged 65 years and over in 2007 had AD. Previous studies carried out have measured costs of formal care utilization in AD, but only a few of them have focused on both informal and formal care costs. The purpose of this research is to explore patient trajectories and to assess all resources used over time. This so-called experimental research will allow further development of research with a larger patient sample.

Since 2010, Dr. Bellanger has also been working with Purdue University on an International Breast Cancer and Nutrition (IBCN) project; this is prevention based research into reducing cancer incidence. The IBCN project aims at promoting a coordinated, yet country-tailored, breast cancer prevention research approach all over the world.  As stated by Lelièvre et al. “Global interdisciplinary partnerships are needed to frame the questions; to study the relationship between diet and life styles, the epigenome, and breast cancer development; to describe the epidemiology of breast cancer in LMI countries; to develop and assess breast cancer prevention strategies; to develop and evaluate public health communication strategies; to create and implement appropriate cancer prevention policies”.

In addition to the research described above, Dr. Bellanger is working on economic evaluation and impact studies in the fields of environmental health and health behaviour in collaboration with her PhD students and young researchers at EHESP and CAPPS (Center of Public Health Policy Analysis). In addition, Dr. Bellanger loves teaching economics and has taught at various institutions, both in permanent and visiting positions, in France and abroad including EHESP, Sciences Po, Bologna University, Northwestern University and Columbia University in the city of New York. Her main motivation for teaching and designing master’s programs has been her belief in students’ capability to understand intricate economic concepts and theories related to global pubic health problems.

Through her devoted dedication of time and resources into higher education, Dr. Bellanger strives to support student-led initiatives. She strongly believes in encouraging students to become autonomous in their own learning and then measuring their success when the time comes to incorporate the lessons learned through research into practice.

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