"Resource Limitations and Household Economics in Outbreaks"
Epidemiological models have been employed with great success to explore the efficacy of alternative strategies at combating disease outbreaks. These models have often incorporated an understanding of age-based susceptibility and severity of outcome, considering how to limit the adverse outcomes or disease burden relative to an age structure. Such models frequently recommend the preferential treatment/vaccination of children or elderly, demonstrating how prevention of serious disease within these etiological subgroups can provide both protection within the subgroup itself and indirect protection to the broader population.
However, it is most frequently the case that these target populations are consumers, rather than providers, of household resources. In areas of the globe where continued health of household members relies on continued provision of resources, these models may fail to provide the most effective overall strategies for health outcomes in both target populations and overall. This is particularly important for tropical diseases impacting rural and low-income areas in which the disease may be endemic or newly emergent, particularly in the wake of natural disasters.
We propose a modified SIR model with targeted treatment in resource-limited populations. We evaluate the model over a broad parameter space. This model demonstrates how economic limitations may shift the optimal strategy. It may be advantageous to treat populations at lesser direct risk if they are responsible for providing secondary protection to higher-risk population(s) by producing household resources. Evaluation of this model over the parameter space reveals that, in some cases, targeting treatment towards consumers may result in greater numbers of consumer infections.
Our results demonstrate how household resource limitation can, in certain regions of the parameter space, drastically affect the impact of targeted treatment strategies for limiting epidemics. Depending on the economic circumstances, it is possible that focusing treatment on consumers such as children can produce a counter-intuitive outcome in which more children contract the disease.