The economic burden of Ebola virus disease: a review and recommendations for analysis

Mavis Obeng-Kusi, Jennifer Martin, Ivo Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ebola virus disease (EVD) continues to be a major public health threat globally, particularly in the low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) of Africa. The social and economic burdens of EVD are substantial and have triggered extensive research into prevention and control. We aim to highlight the impact and economic implications, identify research gaps, and offer recommendations for future economic studies pertaining to EVD. Method: We conducted a comprehensive librarian-led search in PubMed/Medline, Embase, Google Scholar, EconLit and Scopus for economic evaluations of EVD. After study selection and data extraction, findings on the impact and economics of EVD were synthesized using a narrative approach, while identifying gaps, and recommending critical areas for future EVD economic studies. Results: The economic evaluations focused on the burden of illness, vaccine cost-effectiveness, willingness-to-pay for a vaccine, EVD funding, and preparedness costs. The estimated economic impact of the 2014 EVD outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone across studies ranged from $30 billion to $50 billion. Facility construction and modification emerged as significant cost drivers for preparedness. The EVD vaccine demonstrated cost-effectiveness in a dynamic transmission model; resulting in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of about $96 per additional disability adjusted life year averted. Individuals exhibited greater willingness to be vaccinated if it incurred no personal cost, with a minority willing to pay about $1 for the vaccine. Conclusions: The severe impact of EVD puts pressure on governments and the international community for better resource utilization and re-allocation. Several technical and methodological issues related to economic evaluation of EVD remain to be addressed, especially for LMICs. We recommend conducting cost-of-sequelae and cost-of-distribution analyses in addition to adapting existing economic analytical methods to EVD. Characteristics of the affected regions should be considered to provide evidence-based economic plans and economic-evaluation of mitigations that enhance resource allocation for prevention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-323
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of medical economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • cost effectiveness
  • Ebola virus disease
  • economic evaluation
  • economic impact
  • infectious diseases
  • willingness to pay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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