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Improving Public Health in Developing Countries through Operations Research

Across the developing world, thousands of people many of them children die each day from malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and other infectious diseases. Many of these conditions are preventable and treatable through well known public health interventions. Operations research (OR) can be a key tool to allocate the scarce resources to cost-effective interventions that can alleviate the health status in developing countries. This article provides an introduction to the application of OR to public health problems in developing countries for OR/MS practitioners, advanced undergraduate students in OR/MS and graduate researchers initiating work in this field. It explains commonly used public health metrics such as quality-adjusted life year (QALY), disability-adjusted life year (DALY), and Gini coefficient. Simple models to understand disease transmission along with a few illustrative applications of OR to solve public health problems are presented.

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