Cost-Effectiveness of Focal Mass Drug Administration and Mass Drug Administration with Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine for Malaria Prevention in Southern Province, Zambia: Results of a Community-Randomized Controlled Trial

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Aug;103(2_Suppl):46-53. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.19-0661.


Community-wide administration of antimalarial drugs in therapeutic doses is a potential tool to prevent malaria infection and reduce the malaria parasite reservoir. To measure the effectiveness and cost of using the antimalarial drug combination dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHAp) through different community-wide distribution strategies, Zambia's National Malaria Control Centre conducted a three-armed community-randomized controlled trial. The trial arms were as follows: 1) standard of care (SoC) malaria interventions, 2) SoC plus focal mass drug administration (fMDA), and 3) SoC plus MDA. Mass drug administration consisted of offering all eligible individuals DHAP, irrespective of a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) result. Focal mass drug administration consisted of offering DHAP to all eligible individuals who resided in a household where anyone tested positive by RDT. Results indicate that the costs of fMDA and MDA per person targeted and reached are similar (US$9.01 versus US$8.49 per person, respectively, P = 0.87), but that MDA was superior in all cost-effectiveness measures, including cost per infection averted, cost per case averted, cost per death averted, and cost per disability-adjusted life year averted. Subsequent costing of the MDA intervention in a non-trial, operational setting yielded significantly lower costs per person reached (US$2.90). Mass drug administration with DHAp also met the WHO thresholds for "cost-effective interventions" in the Zambian setting in 90% of simulations conducted using a probabilistic sensitivity analysis based on trial costs, whereas fMDA met these criteria in approximately 50% of simulations. A sensitivity analysis using costs from operational deployment and trial effectiveness yielded improved cost-effectiveness estimates. Mass drug administration may be a cost-effective intervention in the Zambian context and can help reduce the parasite reservoir substantially. Mass drug administration was more cost-effective in relatively higher transmission settings. In all scenarios examined, the cost-effectiveness of MDA was superior to that of fMDA.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antimalarials / administration & dosage
  • Antimalarials / economics*
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Artemisinins / administration & dosage
  • Artemisinins / economics*
  • Artemisinins / therapeutic use
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disease Eradication / economics*
  • Disease Eradication / methods
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / economics
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / methods
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / drug therapy
  • Malaria, Falciparum / economics
  • Malaria, Falciparum / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / prevention & control*
  • Mass Drug Administration / economics*
  • Mass Drug Administration / methods
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Quinolines / administration & dosage
  • Quinolines / economics*
  • Quinolines / therapeutic use
  • Zambia / epidemiology


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • Quinolines
  • dihydroartemisinin
  • piperaquine