Health and Development

The potential consequences of a virulent epidemic in an era of rapid global travel make it essential to understand what factors motivate governments to report disease outbreaks or attempt to conceal them. By reporting an outbreak, a country may obtain international medical assistance, but trading partners may then impose costly trade and travel sanctions. The greater the return (or the penalty) for reporting an outbreak, the greater the return (or the cost) for detecting the outbreak in the first place. These incentives and disincentives thus affect the country’s decision on how much to allocate to surveillance.
 
To see how incentives are influenced by the speed of transmission of the disease, the quality of surveillance data, and the availability of vaccines, CDDEP researchers built a game-theory model to capture the basic dynamics. The findings shed light on why countries have failed to cooperate fully on surveillance and reporting and also point the way toward better cooperation. More valuable medical assistance and perhaps financial transfers to offset the cost of reporting sanctions would be useful; limits on sanctions, especially sanctions based on fears of undetected outbreaks, are not.
 
Researchers then used a bioeconomic model to study the effect of incentives on surveillance and reporting. The findings confirm that the World Health Organization should take into account a country’s incentives to look for and report disease outbreaks, notwithstanding its legal obligations. As with other global public goods, one country’s failure to act promptly could have serious consequences for the whole world.

Publications

Among rural Indian households who currently do not have access to (or those who do not access) neonatal care, what are the health and economic benefits of scaling up access to a package of home-...

What are some of the unintended consequences of India’s Safe Motherhood Scheme (JSY), one of the largest conditional cash transfer programs for pregnant women in the world? How has the program...

Blog

 

Each year, some 150 million people worldwide face financial catastrophe due to spending on health—and according to a 2010 study, more than one third of them live in India.1,2...

 
Each year around the world, 6 million people die from tobacco use,...

Tools

Malaria has been nearly eliminated twice in Zanzibar in the 1960s and again in the 1980s but each time the disease has surged back once program funding has declined.  Zanzibar is once again at a crossroads, as coordinated international and local efforts are achieving remarkable success.  But with malaria becoming a less visible threat, can Zanzibar make the case for continued funding for malaria interventions?
Pneumococcal diseases kill an estimated 826,000 under-5 year olds each year (O'Brien 2009). The burden of invasive pneumococcal disease is not evenly distributed across the world, but is generally highest in low-GDP per capita countries (World Health Organization 2000; World Bank 2000; O'Brien 2009) a relationship that holds for other diseases as well. The questions we need to ask then are: what policies are needed to help children in these countries live as long as their cohort in higher-GDP per capita countries? And, how can countries implement and finance those policies?