Deeper understanding of the role of human health as a critical component of economic development has stimulated interest in improving the efficiency with which the modest health resources available in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are spent. In recent years, exponential growth in the number of economic evaluations of health interventions, spurred in part by the first edition of this volume (Jamison and others 1993), has created a wider knowledge base for evaluating the costs and benefits of interventions to enable better targeting of financial resources in the health sector (box 2.1). Although efficient spending on health has always been a desirable goal, it is particularly critical in the face of recent threats, such as HIV/AIDS and drug-resistant bacteria, as well as the problems presented by increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD), that threaten to roll back the significant health gains achieved in the past two decades. This book is an opportunity to assess anew the costs associated with and the health gains attainable from specific interventions and thereby better inform the allocation of new health funding.
Drawing from the collective knowledge and analytical work of the many experts who have contributed to this volume, this chapter provides a broader perspective on the relative efficiency and effect on health of a number of interventions than is possible in a single, condition-specific chapter.1 The objective is to provide information on the cost-effectiveness estimates for 319 interventions covering nearly every disease condition considered in the volume, and the resulting avertable burden of disease.2 This chapter provides broad conclusions on the economic efficiency of using these interventions to improve health.