Relative efficiency of demand creation strategies to increase voluntary medical male circumcision uptake: a study conducted as part of a randomised controlled trial in Zimbabwe

BMJ Glob Health. 2021 Jul;6(Suppl 4):e004983. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2021-004983.


Background: Supply and demand-side factors continue to undermine voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) uptake. We assessed relative economic costs of four VMMC demand creation/service-delivery modalities as part of a randomised controlled trial in Zimbabwe.

Methods: Interpersonal communication agents were trained and incentivised to generate VMMC demand across five districts using four demand creation modalities (standard demand creation (SDC), demand creation plus offer of HIV self-testing (HIVST), human-centred design (HCD)-informed approach, HCD-informed demand creation approach plus offer of HIVST). Annual provider financial expenditure analysis and activity-based-costing including time-and-motion analysis across 15 purposively selected sites accounted for financial expenditures and donated inputs from other programmes and funders. Sites represented three models of VMMC service-delivery: static (fixed) model offering VMMC continuously to walk-in clients at district hospitals and serving as a district hub for integrated mobile and outreach services, (2) integrated (mobile) modelwhere staff move from the district static (fixed) site with their commodities to supplement existing services or to recently capacitated health facilities, intermittently and (3) mobile/outreach model offering VMMC through mobile clinic services in more remote sites.

Results: Total programme cost was $752 585 including VMMC service-delivery costs and average cost per client reached and cost per circumcision were $58 and $174, respectively. Highest costs per client reached were in the HCD arm-$68 and lowest costs in standard demand creation ($52) and HIVST ($55) arms, respectively. Highest cost per client circumcised was observed in the arm where HIVST and HCD were combined ($226) and the lowest in the HCD alone arm ($160). Across the three VMMC service-delivery models, unit cost was lowest in static (fixed) model ($54) and highest in integrated mobile model ($63). Overall, economies of scale were evident with unit costs lower in sites with higher numbers of clients reached and circumcised.

Conclusions: There was high variability in unit costs across arms and sites suggesting opportunities for cost reductions. Highest costs were observed in the HCD+HIVST arm when combined with an integrated service-delivery setting. Mobilisation programmes that intensively target higher conversion rates as exhibited in the SDC and HCD arms provide greater scope for efficiency by spreading costs.

Trial registration number: PACTR201804003064160.

Keywords: HIV; health economics; prevention strategies; public health; randomised control trial.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Circumcision, Male*
  • HIV Infections* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Zimbabwe

Associated data

  • PACTR/PACTR201804003064160