Assessing the Value of Animal Health Surveillance – International Society for Disease Surveillance


Time and Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015, from 1pm – 2pm ET


Barbara Häsler, Dr vet. med., PhD – Barbara is a lecturer in Agrihealth at the Royal Veterinary College and Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health. 


Since resources are scarce and governments must work within limited budgets, economic analysis of surveillance systems are an important aid to decision-making by describing alternative surveillance options and identifying which of these is to be preferred if the objective is to obtain the best level of net benefit from the scarce resources available. Economic appraisals of surveillance need to be done on a case by case basis for any hazard considering both surveillance and intervention performance, the losses avoided and the values attached to them. Theoretical economic principles and concepts help to elaborate the criteria for the optimal level of disease mitigation for surveillance and intervention according to whether they are economic complements or substitutes. 

Economic evaluation of surveillance is commonly driven by a specific evaluation question which aims to assess whether the value of outputs recovered is at least sufficient to cover the additional investment, and, ideally, whether the net benefits to society are maximised. This question can be investigated using methods of optimisation, cost-benefit or cost-analysis. Also, effective surveillance produces benefits that do not have a market price, but nevertheless have a value, such as peace of mind, feelings of safety when a hazard is absent, freedom from fear, collaborations and partnerships. In One Health surveillance, not only values in the animal population must be considered, but also benefits and costs in other sectors, particularly the public health sector. Their evaluation is dependent on the level of integration and the associated theory of change. Currently, there are limited frameworks, approaches and metrics available to assess the value of integrated surveillance systems.