Introduction: Poor data quality and use have been identified as key challenges that negatively impact immunization programs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In addition, many LMICs have a shortage of health personnel, and staff available have demanding workloads across several health programs. In order to address these challenges, the Better Immunization Data (BID) Initiative introduced a comprehensive suite of interventions, including an electronic immunization registry aimed at improving the quality, reliability, and use of immunization data in Arusha Region, Tanzania, and Southern Province of Zambia. The objective of this study was to assess the incremental costs of implementing the BID interventions in immunization programs in these two countries.
Methods: We conducted a micro-costing study to estimate the economic costs of service delivery and logistics for the immunization programs with and without the BID interventions in a sample of health facilities and district program offices in each country. Structured questionnaires were used to interview immunization program staff at baseline and post-intervention to assess annual resource utilization and costs. Cost outcomes were reported as annual cost per facility, cost per district and changes in resource costs due to the BID interventions (i.e., costs associated with health worker time, start-up costs, etc.). Sub-group analyses were conducted by health facility to assess variation in costs by volume served and location (rural versus urban). One-way sensitivity analyses were conducted to identify influential parameters. Costs were reported in 2017 US dollars.
Results: In Tanzania, the average annual reduction in resource costs was estimated at US$10,236 (95% confidence interval: $7,606-$14,123) per health facility, while the average annual reduction in resource costs per district was estimated at $6,542. In Zambia, reductions in resource costs were modest at an estimated annual average of $628 (95% confidence interval: $209-$1,467) per health facility and $236 per district. Resource cost reductions were mainly attributable to reductions in time required for immunization service delivery and reporting. One-way sensitivity analyses identified key cost drivers, all related to reductions in health worker time.
Conclusion: The introduction of electronic immunization registries and stock management systems through the BID Initiative was estimated to result in potential time savings in both countries. Health worker time was the area most impacted by the interventions, suggesting that time savings gained could be utilized for patient care. Information generated through this work provides evidence to inform stakeholder decision-making for scale-up of the BID interventions in Tanzania and Zambia and to inform other Low-to-Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) interested in similar interventions.
Keywords: Costing; Expanded Program on Immunization; Tanzania; Zambia; data; economic evaluation; immunization registry.
© Mercy Mvundura et al.