Economic evaluation of a cluster-randomized trial of interventions to improve health workers’ practice in diagnosing and treating uncomplicated malaria in Cameroon

L Mangham-Jefferies, V Wiseman, OA Achonduh, TL Drake, B Cundill, O Onwujekwe, W Mbacham.

Value in Health 2014, 17(8):783-791 | DOI: 10.1016/j.jval.2014.07.010

Abstract

Background: Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are a valid alternative to malaria testing with microscopy and are recommended for the testing of febrile patients before prescribing an antimalarial. There is a need for interventions to support the uptake of RDTs by health workers.

Objective: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of introducing RDTs with basic or enhanced training in health facilities in which microscopy was available, compared with current practice.

Methods: A three-arm cluster randomized trial was conducted in 46 facilities in central and northwest Cameroon. Basic training had a practical session on RDTs and lectures on malaria treatment guidelines. Enhanced training included small-group activities designed to change health workers’ practice and reduce the consumption of antimalarials among test-negative patients. The primary outcome was the proportion of febrile patients correctly treated: febrile patients should be tested for malaria, artemisinin combination therapy should be prescribed for confirmed cases, and no antimalarial should be prescribed for patients who are test-negative. Individual patient data were obtained from facility records and an exit survey. Costs were estimated from a societal perspective using project reports and patient exit data. The analysis used bivariate multilevel modeling and adjusted for imbalance in baseline covariates.

Results: Incremental cost per febrile patient correctly treated was $8.40 for the basic arm and $3.71 for the enhanced arm. On scale-up, it was estimated that RDTs with enhanced training would save $0.75 per additional febrile patient correctly treated.

Conclusions: Introducing RDTs with enhanced training was more cost-effective than RDTs with basic training when each was compared with current practice.

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