Vaccines eradicated smallpox in the 1970s and reduced the number of deaths from measles by nearly 40 percent from 1999 to 2003. Yet many vaccines are implemented slowly, particularly in developing countries, and nearly 11 million children die every year due to a lack of vaccinations. McKinsey research suggests that network analysis, which companies use to improve business outcomes by analyzing information flows and personal relationships, could speed their adoption. Specifically, these techniques can shed light on the complicated processes and interactions that underpin (and often slow down) the introduction of vaccines.
The process of introducing vaccines varies from country to country and involves the influence of many stakeholders—ministries of health and finance, international agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), community leaders, experts on disease, and funders, to name just some of the players. Defining roles, decision rights, and data requirements for this constellation of participants is difficult. The resulting confusion slows decision making and compounds chronic problems, such as poor infrastructure and limited public-health budgets. Delays, sometimes as long as 15 to 20 years, between the introduction of a vaccine in developed countries and its adoption in developing ones are the result.