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Keywords:

  • economic evaluation;
  • infectious diseases;
  • public health;
  • macroeconomics;
  • vaccination

Abstract

We argue that traditional health economic analysis is ill-equipped to estimate the cost effectiveness and cost benefit of interventions that aim at controlling and/or preventing public health emergencies of international concern (such as pandemic influenza or severe acute respiratory syndrome). The implicit assumption of partial equilibrium within both the health sector itself and – if a wider perspective is adopted – the economy as a whole would be violated by such emergencies. We propose an alternative, with the specific aim of accounting for the behavioural changes and capacity problems that are expected to occur when such an outbreak strikes. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.