Managing humanitarian operations: the impact of amount, schedules, and uncertainty in funding Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Natarajan, Karthik V.
    • Affiliation: Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • Global health spending has increased manyfold in the last few decades reaching US $6.5 trillion in 2012. Despite these increases, humanitarian organizations from around the world, working on different diseases including Malaria and Tuberculosis, have warned about potential funding shortfalls in the near future. Facing a growing need for health services and commodities, resource-constrained organizations are constantly looking for ways to maximize health outcomes through efficient and effective use of available resources. In this dissertation, we develop approaches to make efficient operational decisions under variable and unpredictable donor funding, a situation that is commonly faced by many humanitarian organizations. In the first chapter, we study the problem of managing inventory of a nutritional product under variable funding constraints. Despite the complexities associated with funding, we show that the optimal replenishment policy is easy to compute and straightforward to implement. We also provide several insights into how the funding amount, funding schedules and uncertainty in funding impact operating costs in this setting. In chapter 2, we look at the problem of dynamically allocating a limited amount of donor funding to patients in different health states in a humanitarian health setting. We show that the optimal allocation policy is state-dependent and prove several structural properties of the optimal policy that would help simplify its computation. Due to the complexity involved in calculating the optimal policy, we develop two heuristics to handle real-size problems with longer planning horizons. Computational results suggest that both heuristics perform well in many cases but one of the heuristics is more robust across a wide variety of settings. In addition to the allocation policy, we also provide some interesting insights into the impact of funding level and funding uncertainty in the multiple health states setting. In the third chapter, we focus on the supply- vs. demand-side investment dilemma frequently faced by public health managers who have a limited budget at their disposal. First, we consider a centralized setting where a single entity, referred as the principal, makes both supply- and demand-side investment decisions. We determine the principal's optimal investment mix in this budget constrained environment and provide insights into how the investment mix varies with the different supply- and demand-side parameters. We then consider a decentralized setting where the principal invests in improving the supply chain while demand mobilization activities are contracted to an agent, who is a profit maximizer. For the decentralized setting, we identify two contracts that ensure that the coverage in the decentralized setting is at least as high as the centralized case.
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  • In Copyright
  • Swaminathan, Jayashankar M.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

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