Exploring the Use of a General Equilibrium Method to Assess the Value of a Malaria Vaccine

An Application to Ghana

Published in: MDM Policy & Practice, Volume 4, Issue 2 (July 2019). doi: 10.1177/2381468319894345

Posted on RAND.org on January 09, 2020

by Erez Yerushalmi, Priscillia Hunt, Stijn Hoorens, Christophe Sauboin, Richard Smith

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Background

Malaria is an important health and economic burden in sub-Saharan Africa. Conventional economic evaluations typically consider only direct costs to the health care system and government budgets. This paper quantifies the potential impact of malaria vaccination on the wider economy, using Ghana as an example.

Methods

We used a computable general equilibrium model of the Ghanaian economy to estimate the macroeconomic impact of malaria vaccination in children under the age of 5, with a vaccine efficacy of 50% against clinical malaria and 20% against malaria mortality. The model considered changes in demography and labor productivity, and projected gross domestic product (GDP) over a time frame of 30 years. Vaccine coverage ranging from 20% to 100% was compared with a baseline with no vaccination.

Results

Malaria vaccination with 100% coverage was projected to increase the GDP of Ghana over 30 years by US$6.93 billion (in 2015 prices) above the baseline without vaccination, equivalent to an increase in annual GDP growth of 0.5%. Projected GDP per capita would increase in the first year due to immediate reductions in time lost from work by adults caring for children with malaria, then decrease for several years as reductions in child mortality increase the number of dependent children, then show a sustained increase after Year 11 due to long-term productivity improvements in adults resulting from fewer malaria episodes in childhood.

Conclusion

Investing in improving childhood health by vaccinating against malaria could result in substantial long-term macroeconomic benefits when these children enter the workforce as adults. These macroeconomic benefits are not captured by conventional economic evaluations and constitute an important potential benefit of vaccination.

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