What is Optima?

Optima is a tool for epidemic projection and response prioritization as well as evaluation. Optima is a mathematical model of transmission and disease progression integrated with an economic and financial analysis framework and a formal mathematical optimization routine. Analyses determine the optimal approach to get as close as possible to defined objectives (e.g. national strategic plan targets) within political, ethical and logistical constraints.

What does Optima do?

Optima can be used to address various policy questions. Standard priority policy questions addressed by Optima include the following:

How close are we to National Strategic Plan targets under current funding?
Over the National Strategic Plan period, how close will the country get to their National Strategic Plan's disease-related targets:

  1. With the current volume of funding, allocated according to current expenditure?
  2. With the current volume of funding, allocated optimally?

How much funding is required to achieve the National Strategic Plan targets?
Over the National Strategic Plan period (or over a longer time period), according to current program implementation practices and costs:

  1. How much total funding is required to meet the National Strategic Plan targets?
  2. How is this funding optimally allocated between programs?

What  benefits can be achieved via implementation efficiency gains?

Other questions typically addressed by Optima include:

What have been the impacts of  past program implementation?

Retrospectively, how would the country's epidemic trajectories have changed had investment not occurred in different programs and what is the estimated cost-effectiveness of the past response?

What is the expected future impact of policy or program implementation scenarios? 

What is the projected future trajectory of the country's epidemic with and without investment in specific programs, or with/without attaining program-specific targets?

How was it developed?

Initially designed as a research tool, Optima evolved to support countries in the development of investment cases, and has been further developed into an allocative efficiency and financial commitment analysis tool for use in informing HIV investment choices. In 2015, a web-based user interface for Optima was launched. In 2016, new application areas are being developed.

What is unique about Optima?

Optima is the only HIV allocative efficiency model with a formal mathematical optimization function, which compares large numbers of investment scenarios to identify the most impactful combination of programs. Optima is a particularly flexible model, which can accommodate HIV programs and sub-populations specific to each country.

Which programs does it cover?

Optima can cover all types of public health interventions, as defined by the user (single interventions or packages of services).

What types of outputs does Optima produce?

Outputs are disease-specific. Optima-HIV models HIV incidence, HIV prevalence, optimal resource allocations – subject to ethical, political and ethical constraints – for different types of objectives (maximize HIV infections averted, DALYs averted, deaths averted, or combinations of these such as the numerous targets of national strategic frameworks), future costs of one HIV infection and future HIV related health care costs. Optima can provide investment cascades for different amounts of budget available. It can also be used to estimate the minimum resource and programmatic requirements to meet multiple objectives.

What time frames can it cover?

Optima is a flexible tool for short- to long-term analysis, but typically will be used to gain insights on medium- to longer-term effects of investments such as the period of a national strategy or an internationally agreed target.

Where can I get Optima software / Can I download it?

Optima is based on open-access software and written in Python and JavaScript and is available for anyone to use. Optima does not need to be downloaded as it is an online application.

Anyone can register for an Optima account and begin using it.

Who can use Optima?

Planners, researchers, M&E officers (with technical assistance from trained experts) are typical users of Optima. To get the most out of your Optima analysis, national monitoring and evaluation experts should use the tool jointly with trained Optima experts from the Optima development/World Bank support team. This will maximize capacity development while enabling your national experts to benefit from the expertise gained from Optima developers and their experience from using Optima in other countries.

Which skills are required?

Knowledge of program statistics, targets, costs, and country epidemiology are desirable. Specific training is provided on using Optima before a license is provided to a user.

Which supporting material is available?

There is a more detailed brochure, technical presentations, a guideline on allocative efficiency analysis, a user guide, and an indicator guide. More information is available on the Brochures, Guides & Documentation page.

Where has Optima been used?

Optima can be used at national and sub-national level and has already been used to support numerous countries.

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