Bubble continuous positive airway pressure in the treatment of severe paediatric pneumonia in Malawi: a cost-effectiveness analysis

BMJ Open. 2017 Jul 10;7(7):e015344. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015344.


Objectives: Pneumonia is the largest infectious cause of death in children under 5 years globally, and limited resource settings bear an overwhelming proportion of this disease burden. Bubble continuous positive airway pressure (bCPAP), an accepted supportive therapy, is often thought of as cost-prohibitive in these settings. We hypothesise that bCPAP is a cost-effective intervention in a limited resource setting and this study aims to determine the cost-effectiveness of bCPAP, using Malawi as an example.

Design: Cost-effectiveness analysis.

Setting: District and central hospitals in Malawi.

Participants: Children aged 1 month-5 years with severe pneumonia, as defined by WHO criteria.

Interventions: Using a decision tree analysis, we compared standard of care (including low-flow oxygen and antibiotics) to standard of care plus bCPAP.

Primary and secondary outcome measures: For each treatment arm, we determined the costs, clinical outcomes and averted disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). We assigned input values from a review of the literature, including applicable clinical trials, and calculated an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER).

Results: In the base case analysis, the cost of bCPAP per patient was $15 per day and $41 per hospitalisation, with an incremental net cost of $64 per pneumonia episode. bCPAP averts 5.0 DALYs per child treated, with an ICER of $12.88 per DALY averted compared with standard of care. In one-way sensitivity analyses, the most influential uncertainties were case fatality rates (ICER range $9-32 per DALY averted). In a multi-way sensitivity analysis, the median ICER was $12.97 per DALY averted (90% CI, $12.77 to $12.99).

Conclusion: bCPAP is a cost-effective intervention for severe paediatric pneumonia in Malawi. These results may be used to inform policy decisions, including support for widespread use of bCPAP in similar settings.

Keywords: health economics; paediatric intensive & critical care; paediatric thoracic medicine; respiratory infections; tropical medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / economics*
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / methods
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malawi
  • Male
  • Pneumonia / economics*
  • Pneumonia / therapy*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Standard of Care / economics