As of late December, 7,373 people have died from the Ebola virus, 99% of which have occurred in three West-African countries Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It is a terrible affliction, but there are other diseases that are much more deadly.
According to the WHO, the latest yearly figures indicate that in these three countries, 5,625 have died from malaria, 7,900 from tuberculosis (TB) and 11,200 from HIV/AIDS. Of course, across the world these numbers are vastly greater with global annual deaths for each disease at 584,000 for malaria and approximately 1.5 million each for TB and HIV/AIDS.
Yet, there are effective, clear strategies and targets that would dramatically reduce the burden of these deadly diseases.
Annual benefits ($m)
Annual costs ($m)
Benefit for Every Dollar Spent
Delay artemisinin resistance greater than 1% and reduce malaria incidence by 50% between 2015 and 2025
Reduce TB deaths by 95% and TB incidence by 90%
In hyper-endemic countries, attain circumcision coverage of at least 90% amongst HIV-negative adult men
In hyper-endemic countries, prioritize and achieve ART coverage of at least 90% amongst HIV-infected adults with a very weak immune system (i.e. CD4 count <350 cells/Î¼L)
For malaria, the recommendation is to reduce resistance to artemisinin â€“ the primary drug treatment for malaria â€“ by using combination therapies, while providing bed-nets to reduce infection. Each dollar invested returns $36 in benefits.
For TB, the author suggests intensifying efforts to identify TB carriers, particularly among those co-infected with HIV, while scaling up treatment to both regular and drug-resistant strains of TB. Each dollar invested returns $43 in benefits.
For HIV/AIDS, to get the best bang-for-buck the authors suggest focusing on hyper-endemic (15%+ of adult population infected) regions in Africa, and in particular those with the weakest immune systems. By providing treatment to the most susceptible, and also circumcising 90% of HIV-negative men, we can return $10 and $28 respectively, for every dollar spent.
Here, Copenhagen Consensus Center has just released its latest research on Infectious Diseases targets for the post-2015 development agenda. Neha Raykar and Ramanan Laxminarayan, from the Public Health Foundation of India write the report on malaria. Anna Vassal, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, writes the main report on TB. Paul Geldsetzer and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health write the main report on HIV/AIDS.
PhD and Adjunct Professor
President of Copenhagen Consensus Center
PS. The Post-2015 Consensus project brings together 60 teams of economists with NGOs, international agencies and businesses to identify the targets with the greatest benefit-to-cost ratio for the UN's post-2015 development goals. If you have questions about the project, send an email to Research Project Manager Brad Wong by replying to this email.