Putting a value on improvements to health

Ensuring global access to proven interventions – including vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics, as well as prioritising the development of new health technologies – requires an assessment of whether the improvement in health outcomes they offer exceeds the improvement in health that would have been possible if the resources required had, instead, been made available for other health care activities. So some assessment of these health opportunity costs is required if the best use is to be made of the resources available for health care, existing technologies and the development of new ones.

Evidence of the expected costs and health effects of making an intervention available to specific populations in
particular settings and health care systems are often summarised as cost per Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY) ratios (Salomon et al, 2012). These provide a useful summary of how much additional resource is required to achieve a measured improvement in health (the additional cost required to avert one DALY), or how much health is delivered for an amount of additional resource (the DALYs averted per $1,000).
Download the full briefing paper on Health Opportunity Costs on the york.ac.uk website