Cost-effectiveness of birth-dose hepatitis B vaccination among refugee populations in the African region: a series of case studies

Confl Health. 2019 Feb 26:13:5. doi: 10.1186/s13031-019-0188-y. eCollection 2019.


Background: Hepatitis B affects 257 million people worldwide. Mother-to-child hepatitis B virus (HBV) transmission is a preventable cause of substantial morbidity and mortality and poses greatest risk for developing chronic HBV infection. The World Health Organization recommends that all countries institute universal hepatitis B birth dose (HepB BD) vaccination during the first 24 h of life, followed by timely completion of routine immunization. The objective of this analysis was to assess the cost-effectiveness of adding HepB BD vaccination among sub-Saharan African refugee populations where the host country's national immunization policy includes HepB BD.

Methods: We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis of three hepatitis B vaccination strategy scenarios for camp-based refugee populations in the African Region (AFR): routine immunization (RI), RI plus universal HepB BD, and RI plus HepB BD only for newborns of hepatitis B surface antigen-positive mothers identified through rapid diagnostic testing (RDT). We focused analyses on refugee populations living in countries that include HepB BD in national immunization schedules: Djibouti, Algeria and Mauritania. We used a decision tree model to estimate costs of vaccination and testing, and costs of life-years lost due to complications of chronic hepatitis B.

Results: Compared with RI alone, addition of HepB BD among displaced Somali refugees in Djibouti camps would save 9807 life-years/year, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of 0.15 USD (US dollars) per life-year saved. The RI plus HepB BD strategy among Western Saharan refugees in Algerian camps and Malian refugees in Mauritania camps would save 27,108 life-years/year with an ICER of 0.11 USD and 18,417 life-years/year with an ICER of 0.16 USD, respectively. The RI plus RDT-directed HepB BD was less cost-effective than RI plus delivery of universal HepB BD vaccination or RI alone.

Conclusions: Based on our model, addition of HepB BD vaccination is very cost-effective among three sub-Saharan refugee populations, using relative life-years saved. This analysis shows the potential benefit of implementing HepB BD vaccination among other camp-based refugee populations as more AFR countries introduce national HepB BD policies.

Keywords: Africa; Algeria; Djibouti; Hepatitis B; Mali; Mauritania; Somalia; Western Sahara; cost-effectiveness; refugee.