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A New Way to Calculate Costs of Infectious Diseases

UPMC Center for Health Security Launches New Web-Based Tool

MAY 7, 2013—Baltimore, MD—The UPMC Center for Health Security today launched a new web-based tool: the Infectious Disease Cost Calculator, or IDCC. The calculator provides the first national level estimates of the costs for dengue and cholera for nearly every country around the world using a uniform, transparent methodology. The calculator also provides the most accurate global cost estimates for dengue and cholera that have been published to date: $12.28 billion for dengue and $3.1 billion for cholera.

The ability to gauge economic losses associated with infectious disease outbreaks is critical to making informed decisions about investments in disease prevention and control at the local, national, and global levels. But there is a surprising lack of data available to shed light on the economic burdens of infectious diseases.

To provide this data, the Center launched the IDCC, which gives country-specific and global estimates of the economic costs of specific infectious diseases. The IDCC was built to provide information to health officials, charitable organizations, and others who face decisions about investments in public health interventions.

Initially, the IDCC will provide cost data for dengue and cholera, with plans to add data on other diseases in the future. IDCC estimates combine direct costs—that is, costs of inpatient and outpatient treatment, and costs attributable to deaths—with indirect costs—that is, costs of decreased productivity due to illness, disability, and death—to deliver a total cost of an infectious disease for each country. 

“Infectious diseases such as cholera and dengue have devastating consequences for the people and economies they affect,” explained project leader Amesh Adalja, MD. “Yet these and other tropical diseases often receive little attention and funding because the real costs are not well understood.”

“Without the ability to calculate the economic burden of disease, health ministers and other public health and political leaders are not able to make fully informed decisions regarding the most effective and cost-effective interventions for preventing or mitigating the effects of infectious diseases,” said David Sack, MD a renowned expert on cholera, expert advisor to the project team, and a professor in the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins University.

IDCC data provide information that can help answer a variety of questions, making it possible for public health practitioners, policymakers, philanthropists, and researchers to compare estimated costs of diseases with costs of control and mitigation measures, such as vaccines, bed nets, medicines, and education.

The Infectious Disease Cost Calculator can be found at


The UPMC Center for Health Security is an independent nonprofit organization that works to protect people’s health from the consequences of epidemics and disasters and to ensure that communities are resilient to major challenges.



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