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Vaccinations in the world’s poorest countries would deliver huge returns, says study

vaccinations in the world’s poorest countries
A White House nurse prepares to administer the H1N1 vaccine to President Barack Obama at the White House on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009.

A new study published in the journal Health Affairs estimates that the effort to fully fund vaccinations in the world’s poorest countries would bring up to a 44-dollar return on investment.

The study calculated the estimated costs of the vaccines, supply chains and service delivery and used the “cost-of-illness” method to calculate returns, an estimate of savings in healthcare dollars as well as lost productivity due to illness, death and disability. For the world’s poorest 94 countries, total vaccination would bring a return of 16 dollars for every dollar spent – and that’s just from the cost-of-illness.

The study also took into account the “full income approach” which puts a number on the value people place on living longer and healthier lives. By this approach, complete vaccination delivery to these countries would bring a return of 44 dollars for every dollar spent.

The study’s authors hope that breaking down the benefits of vaccination programs for low and middle-income countries into dollars and cents will help governments and NGOs see the clear gains to be made from immunization programs. “An analysis of return on investment can help policy makers support, optimize, and advocate for the expansion of immunization programs in the world’s poorest countries,” say the study’s authors.

The study’s estimates considered vaccination delivery for ten vaccine-preventable infections: Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus, Japanese encephalitis, measles, Neisseria meningitis serogroup A, rotavirus, rubella, Streptococcus pneumoniae and yellow fever.

In an online interview with ResearchGate, lead author of the study Sachiko Ozawa stated, “In addition to saving lives, immunization significantly reduces illnesses and disability caused by vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunization also saves money for individuals and families by averting healthcare costs, productivity losses, and lost wages associated with illness or care-seeking.”

In May 2012, 194 Member States of the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), thereby ushering in the “Decade of Vaccines,” with the goal to extend access to immunization to all people around the globe by 2020. According to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an estimated 1.5 million children die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. The goals set in GVAP will if reached prevent the deaths of over 11 million people and prevent the disabling of over 3.9 million.

According to a Global Affairs Canada report on International Assistance, Canada is currently providing aid to the tune of $500 million over the period of 2016-2020 in support of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, an international organization working to provide vaccine access to the world’s poorest countries. Last year, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said that Canada’s foreign aid spending was dropped to 0.24 per cent of GDP in 2014, a few points lower than the 0.27 of the previous year. The OECD average was 0.29 per cent of GDP.

At home in Canada, vaccination rates are at about 90 per cent for children under the age of two for immunization against polio, measles, mumps and rubella. And rates are in the mid-70’s for immunizing under the age of two against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus and varicella (chicken pox).

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.
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