What GRAPH Does
Imagine that you are a state health commissioner with a $10 million dollar discretionary budget, and you are responsible for spending this money in the best way to improve the health of the people in your community. Would you stay with the status quo? Or is there a better way? One approach is to use cost-effectiveness analysis. Consider a very simple case. You look at the public health literature, and find two good options: investing in cervical cancer vaccines or blood pressure screening plus treatment. If you give the cervical cancer vaccine to girls, it will cost $10 to save one life. If you screen for blood pressure and treat people with high blood pressure, it will cost $10,000 to save one life. You do not have to be a math genius to see that investing the $10 million in vaccines will save up to 1 million lives and investing blood pressure screening and treatment will save 100 lives.
So, you can save an additional 9,900 lives with the cervical cancer vaccine. But there is a lot more to think about. Cervical cancer vaccines are controversial, and might not be accepted in your community. Some communities might already have very high vaccination rates. You might also have unusually high rates of heart disease. The data that you have is a “one size fits all policy,” but your community is not very typical. You want more information on how these investments might look. It might also be that there is a much better way to tackle high blood pressure. By investing in sidewalks, parks, bike paths, and changing zoning laws, you can prevent high blood pressure before it happens by increasing levels of exercise in your community.
Right now, there is a good deal of information on how to prevent disease, but it is very incomplete. It is tailored to nations, not communities. And it overlooks some of what experts agree are new, innovative, and much more effective ways of preventing disease. GRAPH overcomes these problems. GRAPH provides local information to local policymakers. GRAPH looks at innovative public health policies that are too often overlooked in the public health literature. And GRAPH lives true to its name, presenting the information to policymakers in the simplest and clearest way possible: graphically.