Background: Chronic diseases, represented mainly by cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, are increasing in developing countries and account for 53% of chronic diseases in Argentina. There is strong evidence that a reduction of 50% of the deaths due to CVD can be attributed to a reduction in smoking, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Generalized cost-effectiveness analysis (GCE) is a methodology designed by WHO to inform decision makers about the extent to which current or new interventions represent an efficient use of resources. We aimed to use GCE analysis to identify the most efficient interventions to decrease CVD.
Methods: Six individual interventions (treatment of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, smoking cessation and combined clinical strategies to reduce the 10 year CVD Risk) and two population-based interventions (cooperation between government, consumer associations and bakery chambers to reduce salt in bread, and mass education strategies to reduce hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and obesity) were selected for analysis. Estimates of effectiveness were entered into age and sex specific models to predict their impact in terms of age-weighted and discounted DALYs saved (disability-adjusted life years). To translate the age- and sex-adjusted incidence of CVD events into health changes, we used risk model software developed by WHO (PopMod). Costs of services were measured in Argentine pesos, and discounted at an annual rate of 3%. Different budgetary impact scenarios were explored.
Results: The average cost-effectiveness ratio in argentine pesos (ARS$) per DALY for the different interventions were: (i) less salt in bread $151; (ii) mass media campaign $547; (iii) combination drug therapy provided to subjects with a 20%, 10% and 5% global CVD risk, $3,599, $4,113 and $4,533, respectively; (iv) high blood pressure (HBP) lowering therapy $7,716; (v) tobacco cessation with bupropion $ 33,563; and (iv) high-cholesterol lowering therapy with statins $ 70,994.
Conclusion: Against a threshold of average per capita income in Argentina, the two selected population-based interventions (lowering salt intake and health education through mass-media campaigns) plus the modified polypill strategy targeting people with a 20% or greater risk were cost-effective. Use of this methodology in developing countries can make resource-allocation decisions less intuitive and more driven by evidence.