Cameroon Economic Optimization Model


The economic optimization model establishes a spatially explicit, intertemporal framework that takes as inputs the nutrition benefits of alternative micronutrient interventions and costs associated with planning and undertaking alternative interventions. Using mixed-integer linear programming, this information is combined to find economically efficient micronutrient intervention programs. The model can identify the intervention, or set of interventions, that most cost-effectively meet specific micronutrient objectives, e.g., effectively covering the same number of children as the set of micronutrient intervention programs current in place. The model can also be used to identify the maximum achievable impact (e.g., greatest number of child lives saved) given funding or other constraints.

Theoretically, the usefulness of the economic optimization model inherently depends on variation over space, time, and across target beneficiary groups in expected costs and benefits associated with alternative interventions. Even in a spatially homogenous country, predicting the benefits and costs of alternative program or policy scenarios can generate new insights that are useful for the planning process. Practically, the optimization model’s usefulness depends on the extent to which policy-makers use the information generated by the model process and can develop and implement programs that vary over space, time, and across target beneficiary groups, in ways suggested by the model.

Pathways Analysis

Two other great concerns of decision-makers in Cameroon are: 1) the speed with which policy changes can practically be implemented; and 2) the evidence base that is required before ‘turning off’ major programs, especially those known to protect children at risk of micronutrient-related mortality. To address this issue in the context of vitamin A deficiency in young children, we used the economic optimization tool to construct alternative policy pathways leading from business-as-usual to more cost-effective sets of policies for addressing vitamin A deficiency. The results suggest, as expected, that the prudent policy pathways are macro-region-specific. These and other policy pathway analyses have greatly enhance the uptake of core MINIMOD messages in Cameroon and internationally and greatly enriched policy discussions in both arenas.

Additional Information

More details on the economic optimization model can be found here.

For more information on other MINIMOD models, see:

Nutrition benefits models

Cost models