CHDS Faculty Member Finds Vaccination May Improve Health Equity

Stephane Verguet smiling at meeting.

CHDS faculty member, Stéphane Verguet is the senior author of a recent paper in Health Affairs that finds vaccination policies are potentially important channels for improving health equity. Sudden healthcare expenses push about 100 million people into poverty every year, making medical impoverishment one of the main factors forcing families below the World Bank’s poverty line of less than US $1.90 per day. In this analysis, authors estimated the differential health impact (measured as the number of deaths averted) and household economic impact (measured as the number of cases of medical impoverishment averted) of ten antigens and their corresponding vaccines across income quintiles for 41 low- and middle-income countries.

The authors found that vaccines administered between 2016 and 2030 would avert (i.e., prevent) 36 million deaths. The hepatitis B vaccine would have the greatest impact on cases of poverty, helping an estimated 14 million people avoid medical impoverishment. Cases of poverty caused by measles and meningitis A would also be significantly reduced by vaccines, with an estimated 5 million and 3 million cases averted respectively. Vaccines would prevent a total of 36 million deaths, with the measles vaccine preventing 22 million alone. The poorest 20% of the population represented over a quarter of deaths prevented by vaccination.

Learn more: Read the open access article.
Learn more: Read coverage by The Boston Globe.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is a public-private partnership committed to saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing equitable use of vaccines in lower-income countries. Gavi currently supports vaccine programs in all 41 countries included in the study.

Stéphane Verguet is Assistant Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research focuses on health decision science and priority setting, particularly the development of mathematical and computational decision-making models to better design health policies. First author Angela Y. Chang was a doctor of science candidate in the Department of Global Health and Population at the time this study was completed, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, in Seattle.

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