Ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) used to treat children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are costly, and the prescribed dosage has not been optimized. The MANGO trial, implemented by Action Contre la Faim in Burkina Faso, proved the non-inferiority of a reduced RUTF dosage in community-based treatment of uncomplicated SAM. We performed a cost-minimization analysis to assess the economic impact of transitioning from the standard to the reduced RUTF dose. We used a decision-analytic model to simulate a cohort of 399 children/arm, aged 6-59 months and receiving SAM treatment. We adopted a societal perspective: direct medical costs (drugs, materials and staff time), non-medical costs (caregiver expenses) and indirect costs (productivity loss) in 2017 international US dollar were included. Data were collected through interviews with 35 caregivers and 20 informants selected through deliberate sampling and the review trial financial documents. The overall treatment cost for 399 children/arm was $36,550 with the standard and $30,411 with the reduced dose, leading to $6,140 (16.8%) in cost savings ($15.43 saved/child treated). The cost/consultation was $11.6 and $9.6 in the standard and reduced arms, respectively, with RUTF accounting for 56.2% and 47.0% of the total. The savings/child treated was $11.4 in a scenario simulating the Burkinabè routine SAM treatment outside clinical trial settings. The reduced RUTF dose tested in the MANGO trial resulted in significant cost savings for SAM treatment. These results are useful for decision makers to estimate potential economic gains from an optimized SAM treatment protocol in Burkina Faso and similar contexts.
Keywords: children; economic evaluation; outpatient care; ready-to-use therapeutic foods; severe acute malnutrition.
© 2021 The Authors. Maternal & Child Nutrition published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.