Model developed to improve combination vaccine accessibility worldwide
Research addresses disparate availability of vaccines in developing countries
MAY 2011 – A researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology has developed a mathematical approach that could make complex combination vaccines more affordable for developing countries and financially more attractive to vaccine producers, helping address a major obstacle to reaching global MNCH targets.
Ruben Proano, assistant professor in RIT's industrial and systems engineering department in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, together with Sheldon Jacobson, professor of computer science at the University of Illinois, and Wenbo Zhang, a graduate engineering student at RIT, have developed a mathematical model that addresses key factors in providing affordable vaccines to developing countries.
One of the factors Proano addressed includes worldwide vaccine manufacturing capacity and its limitations. The use of production facilities and resources to make more profitable combination vaccines is reducing the production capacity once used to provide inexpensive vaccines for developing countries, he says.
"The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has made immunization a key component of the U.N. Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, which aims to save 16 million women and children between 2011 and 2015. However, such goals may not be achieved unless the issue of access is addressed," says Proano. "We think that our research work highlights how a systems approach can provide opportunities that will benefit the buyers and the producers and will result in more incentives to improve vaccine availability."
His research team investigated the optimal price for combination vaccines that can be offered to different market segments. Making combination vaccines affordable and available to developing countries helps spread out the high research and development costs associated with vaccine development and could lower the price of vaccines in industrialized countries. Considering the global vaccine market as a system provides opportunities to make appropriate recommendations on the number of vaccines to purchase so that buyers and producers maximize savings and benefits.