A : Problem Definition
Stig Andersen: Indian J Public Health 1963, 7, 141-51.

The research which is foremostly needed in the poor countries of the world is not inventive and experimental research; the demand of these societies is no longer for new techniques and new inventions to improve their human material. Their demand is for systems composed of largely known techniques which could improve the human material to a level they can now afford and give the optimal utilisation of scarce economic resources. Research that satisfies this demand can be called application research or operations research. The term Operations Research has been borrowed from certain other fields i.e., military and industry. The techniques have mainly been developed during the second world war military field operations and later on applied in the field of industrial management. The spectacular progress of public health in the developed countries during the last century was a result of interaction mainly between economic progress and the development of science and not as a result of application of operations research. Over a period of time a very large number of inventions and experiences in techniques are available to apply in logical systems. This relative preponderance of technical knowledge over economic capacity is the social fact and many developing countries cannot choose the best and have to depend upon the utilisation of operations research in public health.

The following are the major seven phases in Operations Research applied to Public Health Services: i) formulation of the problem, ii) collection of data, iii) analysis and hypothesis formulation, iv) deriving solutions from the model, v) choosing the optimal solution and forecasting results, vi) the test run and the control system, vii) Recommending implementation. Operations Research can be a continuous process or even one time effort. For a country like India it could be a permanent feature of the national health services. The minimum composition of the Operations Research team is probably a public health administrator, an epidemiologist, a mathematician, a statistical and social scientist.

The essence of Operations Research is that logical thought combined with careful observation and methodological analysis, which should form the basis of decision making. Operations Research thus may be called as the science of common sense.