Allocation of Medical Supplies During a Public Health Emergency

Kathleen King, Cornell University

When a large public health emergency, such as a bioterrorist attack or pandemic, occurs, vaccines, antibiotics, or other countermeasures must be distributed to the affected population. Federal, state, and local authorities must move the necessary medical supplies from federal stockpiles to state-run warehouses to the clinics that distribute these materials to individuals. We present a stochastic dynamic programming model of this emergency supply chain and show how it can be used to optimally allocate supplies to the states and to the local clinics. We have developed a variety of approximate solution techniques for solving the allocation problem efficiently, and we discuss how policy-makers can use these results to improve emergency response plans.

Abstract Author(s): Kathleen King, John Muckstadt