Cost-Effectiveness of Treating the Masses - Part 2

This following article is regarding the authoritative claims by leaders that medical care and assistance provided to poor countries in case of certain diseases is too expensive and hence, not very 'cost-effective'...

The short answer to "cost - effectiveness" claims such as these are failures of imagination. The authors of the 2002 paper arrived at their conclusion by treating "cost" and "effectiveness" as givens, but both turned out to be highly variable.

Consider cost. Within a decade, the cost of AIDS therapy dropped from $10,000 per patient per year to less than $100 per patient per year. Meanwhile, AIDS drugs proved more effective than initially thought.

Not only do multidrug regimens suppress the virus indefinitely, they also reduce transmission by 96 percent. Put simply: treatment works as prevention, too.

Today more than 8 million people are on treatment worldwide; some 6 million of them live in Africa. Few experts of any stripe could have imagined, in 2002, just how cost - effective AIDS treatment really is.

As this example reveals, global public health experts have sometimes become the tools of their tools, to paraphrase Thoreau.

This is a problem when dealing with lethal infectious diseases that cross borders and burn through the ranks of the poor.

The quick fix will never be enough to contain the really difficult diseases or protect the populations most vulnerable to them.

We learned this lesson, once again, in Haiti. In late 2010, the World Health Organisation and other public health heavy-weights got to work making policy recommendations about cholera in Haiti.

Instead of using every weapon in the arsenal, as would have happened had the disease appeared in the United States or any other wealthy country, the post - quake aid apparatus balked, opting to promote certain interventions over others.

In particular, oral cholera vaccine was ruled out as "too expensive" or "too complex to deliver" in Haiti.

- Jonathan Weigel


Anuj Chugh
About the author:- A Teach For India alumnus, Anuj spent two years working in an underprivileged school in Pune, teaching 120 children from the 7th and 8th grade, developing his leadership skills. For 8 years before the fellowship, Anurag was involved in developing and debugging embedded software and hardware as part of various design teams. He is now CEO of Ergoptix Mediquip Pvt Ltd, the manufacturer of Magnifying Loupes and LED Headlamps in India. Bringing awareness of developing the practice of maintaining the correct posture by using magnification at the very inception of the doctor’s dental and medical practice. Feel free to communicate with Anuj by email or via WhatsApp message at +91-9819912872. Read more about Anuj on his personal site.


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