Value of Vaccines – Benefits Beyond Health

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NewZNew (Chandigarh) : Vaccination is one of the most powerful and cost effective health interventions in history and prevents 2 – 3 million deaths every year. With the exception of clean water, no other modality, not even antibiotics, has had such a major effect on mortality reduction.

The value of vaccination extends beyond providing just positive health outcomes; it supports socio-economic development through saving lives and saving money. Immunization is one of the most cost-effective public health investments to decrease poverty and prevent longer term economic and social costs.

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The way we view vaccines and vaccines development requires a rethink, built on an appreciation of the value of prevention which in nearly all cases confers positive health economic benefits to society.

Saving Lives, Saving Money

 Vaccines have been recognized as the single greatest promise of biomedicine: disease prevention. 5 Health is exceptionally valuable. It is better to prevent disease than allow avoidable human suffering, incur the costs of care and treatment, and suffer the economic consequences of lost work and lower productivity.

  • The economic impact of repeated episodes of illness and long term disability is a major cause of underdevelopment in many countries today.
  • The most convincing success of vaccination is the eradication of smallpox and near-elimination of polio:
  • Over the ten year period leading up to 1977 vaccination programmes to prevent smallpox cost US $100 million, but it is estimated that its global eradication has resulted in annual savings of US $1.3 billion in treatment and prevention ever since.
  • Once polio has been eradicated, savings on health costs worldwide are estimated to amount to US $1.5 billion each year.
  • Another area of success has been measles vaccination, which resulted in a 71% drop in measles deaths worldwide between 2000 and 2011.

o In 1994, every dollar spent to purchase measles-containing vaccine saved $10.30 in direct medical costs and $3.20 in indirect societal costs.

  • Increasing the vaccine coverage rate in 72 of the poorest countries is projected to result in averting 6.4 million preventable deaths over a 10 year period. This increase in vaccine coverage is also projected to reduce healthcare cost by US $6.2 billion and US $145 billion in productivity loses.

Childhood Vaccination

By helping to keep children healthy, immunization can extend life expectancy and the time spent on productive activity – thereby contributing to poverty reduction.

  • Beyond preventing more than 426 million cases of illness and averting 6.4 million deaths over the next ten years, immunizing children would hold major economic benefits for both families and governments.
  • Expanding childhood immunization rates in the world’s 72 poorest countries over the next decade would result in an estimated US $151 billion in treatment and productivity savings.
  • The ability to avert 6.4 million deaths by improving vaccine coverage has an estimated value of US $231 billion for those in at-risk countries.

Beyond these economic benefits, there is increasing evidence that suggests vaccination can improve physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Childhood vaccination has been linked with positive and long-term health benefits that translate into increased cognitive ability in ten year olds, which in turn is associated with higher earnings in adulthood.

Adult and Adolescent Vaccination

Amidst the current demographic trends, adult and adolescent vaccination offers a cost-effective solution to maintaining public health and helps the aging to be more active and productive.

  • Seasonal influenza is a major economic burden. It can result in increased healthcare costs and workplace absences and reduced productivity. Studies from developed countries that suggest the total annual cost of influenza is between US $1 million to US $6 million per 100,000 population.
  • Influenza vaccination may reduce the number of hospitalizations for pneumonia, influenza, bronchitis, or emphysema by 63%13 and reduce overall mortality by 75%.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer – the third most common cancer in women, incidence rates vary from 1 to 50 per 100,000 females. In Belgium, health economic data has shown that screening for and vaccinating against HPV would prevent an additional 646 cases of cervical cancer over the lifetime of a 100,000 female cohort compared with screening alone.