05 – The value of vaccines in health and economic development

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This panel discussed different approaches to measuring the value of vaccines and drilled down on the issue with two case studies

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Copyright UNICEF/2010/Shehzad Noorani

Ambitabh Mehta of the GAVI Alliance opened the session and explained that the panel will discuss different approaches to measuring the value of vaccines and will drill down on the issue with two case studies.

Raymond Hutubessy of the WHO, who has written on evaluation of the value of vaccines in health and economic development, explained the economic benefits of vaccine framework on evaluation of vaccines. The healthier a nation is the greater its economic growth.

The WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and health in 2001 found that attendance in school and work is greatly impacted by health. WORLD Development report of 1993 found that EPI programs are the most-effective public health intervention.

New Vaccines are more complex and costly however and financial decisions are made outside the health sector by ministry of finance, in addition to parliamentarians. This session posed a question: perhaps traditional cost-effectiveness measurements are too narrow?

Sachiko Ozawa of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health spoke about the evidence and the current status of the value of vaccines work globally. Spoke about the impact of the Decade of Vaccines 2011-2020. Health impact: 6.4 million deaths averted in GAVI countries. Economic impact, $6.2 billion in treatment cost savings, $144 billion in future economic output. She concluded with areas where greater evidence would be valuable.

Till Barnighausen of Harvard School of Public Health and the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies in South Africa spoke about the value of measles vaccination in rural KwaZulu-Natal (on educational attainment) where a controlled study was conducted. They found that measles vaccination increases school grade attainment in secondary school by 0.135 school grades. This means that measles vaccination has an instrumental value working towards some of the best development interventions. In countries with imperfect measles coverage, we can make substantial progress towards MDG2 using interventions that are currently seen as part of MDG4.

Lastly Damian Walker of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation presented on a study conducted in Bangladesh. The study had an intervention area and a control area and looked at the impact of the 1980s roll out of measles vaccine. Showed that vaccination between 9-12 months of age improves probability of school enrolment for boys by 10 percent (there was no impact for girls). Each year of schooling increases wages by 10 percent. There was also significant spill-over effect/positive externality of vaccination. He closed with examining the challenges and opportunities of this study.

1 in 5

1 in 5 of all children who die before the age of five lose their lives to vaccine-preventable diseases.

WHO Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals’ estimates and projections, as of October 2012

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