Economics of Infectious Diseases

The IDEEAL project is funded by USAID and implemented by EcoHealth Alliance, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, local NGOs, our industry and Malaysian government partners.


Economic growth and increasing human population have led to unprecedented rates of land conversion from forests to agriculture. Land conversion accelerates the pace and diversity of human and animal contact, enabling pathogens to spill over from animal populations, a first spark in the chain of events that ignite global pandemics. For instance, empirical evidence supports the link between deforestation and increasing incidence of malaria in Brazil and Indonesia.


Why use an economic model?

Economic models allow us to determine the optimal amount of land that can be converted for economic purposes while minimizing losses in human health and ecosystem services. It is extremely important to consider the health consequences that may result from land conversion because over-conversion might result in losses both economic and in social welfare.


IDEEAL Economic Model
Where should land be converted?

This may help inform policy makers and other stakeholders to determine:

  1. How much land should be converted?
  2. How quickly can land be converted?
  3. Where should land be converted to minimize health and environmental impacts?


Our model does this by considering:

  1. The economic benefits of land use change (e.g. profits from timber and crop production).
  1. The economic losses due to reduction of ecosystem services (e.g. pollination of crops by wild insects, carbon sequestration).
  2. The economic cost of emerging diseases that are linked to land use change (e.g. rising number of malaria cases in deforested areas.