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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24577. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024577. Epub 2011 Sep 13.

Resource allocation for epidemic control in metapopulations.

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Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.


Deployment of limited resources is an issue of major importance for decision-making in crisis events. This is especially true for large-scale outbreaks of infectious diseases. Little is known when it comes to identifying the most efficient way of deploying scarce resources for control when disease outbreaks occur in different but interconnected regions. The policy maker is frequently faced with the challenge of optimizing efficiency (e.g. minimizing the burden of infection) while accounting for social equity (e.g. equal opportunity for infected individuals to access treatment). For a large range of diseases described by a simple SIRS model, we consider strategies that should be used to minimize the discounted number of infected individuals during the course of an epidemic. We show that when faced with the dilemma of choosing between socially equitable and purely efficient strategies, the choice of the control strategy should be informed by key measurable epidemiological factors such as the basic reproductive number and the efficiency of the treatment measure. Our model provides new insights for policy makers in the optimal deployment of limited resources for control in the event of epidemic outbreaks at the landscape scale.

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