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Controlled Clinical Trial
, 17 (9), 2138-45

Cost of Childhood Diarrhoea in Rural South Africa: Exploring Cost-Effectiveness of Universal Zinc Supplementation

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Controlled Clinical Trial

Cost of Childhood Diarrhoea in Rural South Africa: Exploring Cost-Effectiveness of Universal Zinc Supplementation

Meera K Chhagan et al. Public Health Nutr.

Abstract

Objective: To describe the cost of diarrhoeal illness in children aged 6-24 months in a rural South African community and to determine the threshold prevalence of stunting at which universal Zn plus vitamin A supplementation (VAZ) would be more cost-effective than vitamin A alone (VA) in preventing diarrhoea.

Design: We conducted a cost analysis using primary and secondary data sources. Using simulations we examined incremental costs of VAZ relative to VA while varying stunting prevalence.

Setting: Data on efficacy and societal costs were largely from a South African trial. Secondary data were from local and international published sources.

Subjects: The trial included children aged 6-24 months. The secondary data sources were a South African health economics survey and the WHO-CHOICE (CHOosing Interventions that are Cost Effective) database.

Results: In the trial, stunted children supplemented with VAZ had 2·04 episodes (95 % CI 1·37, 3·05) of diarrhoea per child-year compared with 3·92 episodes (95 % CI 3·02, 5·09) in the VA arm. Average cost of illness was $Int 7·80 per episode (10th, 90th centile: $Int 0·28, $Int 15·63), assuming a minimum standard of care (oral rehydration and 14 d of therapeutic Zn). In simulation scenarios universal VAZ had low incremental costs or became cost-saving relative to VA when the prevalence of stunting was close to 20 %. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were sensitive to the cost of intervention and coverage levels.

Conclusions: This simulation suggests that universal VAZ would be cost-effective at current levels of stunting in parts of South Africa. This requires further validation under actual programmatic conditions.

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