Modelling work in public health: the OECD’s SPHeP models


The OECD is a global leader in modelling public health threats and in evaluating the return on investment of innovative policy options to tackles these threats. The family of OECD models to support Strategic Public Health Planning (SPHeP) are designed to inform and support the decision-making process in countries at all levels of income.


Introducing the SPHeP Models

Our models produce evidence that can guide policy decisions on how to ensure that resources spent on public health policy actions will produce the greatest health outcomes and economic benefits. They are designed to generate data on how to prevent, manage and control key public health threats. This includes the vast majority of non-communicable diseases, injuries and mental health problems, as well as emerging threats in the field of communicable diseases.

The OECD has developed two advanced system-modelling tools to cover all the areas of public health:

  • A microsimulation model, which covers all the key threats related to non-communicable diseases. These include diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases, in addition to injuries and mental health issues, as well as key risk factors such as harmful alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use. In total, the model accounts for more than 26 diseases and 6 risk factors, which represent the vast majority of the burden of disease.
  • An agent-based model, to simulate dynamics specific to communicable diseases. So far, the OECD is applying this methodology to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and COVID-19, but the framework can be broadly applicable to all communicable diseases.

OECD work covers more than 50 countries - all the 37 OECD member countries, the other non-OECD EU and G20 countries, as well as other key partners of the OECD - accounting for more than 4.7 billion people (over 60% of the world's population) and nearly 80% of the world economy. The models can easily be adapted to cover any country in the world.


The models help policy-makers respond to the following questions:

  • What would be the investment needed to implement or scale up a specific public health programme?
  • What would be the impact of this intervention in terms of population health and healthcare expenditure?
  • What would be the effects of the new programme on labour force productivity and the economy (i.e. GDP)?
  • What is the return on investment of the policy action and its distributional impact?
  • How long will it take to produce the desired effects?

Inputs and outputs of the SPHeP models




The following projects are heavily based on our models:


For more information, please contact Mr Michele Cecchini at or

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