Time and Monte Carlo Are of the Essence

Because risk assessment and risk analysis have taken such a beating in the press for their supposed role in the financial failures of the last few months, I want to call your attention to another good-news item about risk analysis. 

February 3 I reported on on the Gates Foundation and its use of Monte Carlo simulation in evaluating the best combinations of medical tools to combat childhood malaria.  Last week the World Health Organization published  a cost-effectiveness study of preventive treatment for malaria in children.  It used Monte Carlo simulation, along with other techniques in statistical analysis to predict that, in Mozambique and Tanzania at least, treating children preventively with a drug called sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine would be highly cost-effective.

The beauty of applying risk analysis to a question like this is that it used real-world data to address a life-and-death question and did this very efficiently.  And in the case of malaria, as the Gates Foundation report points out, this kind of efficiency is in itself lifesaving because it speeds our progress against a disease that has a head start of many centuries of killing.

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