Costs of implementing integrated community case management (iCCM) in six African countries: implications for sustainability
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BACKGROUND Sub–Saharan Africa still reports the highest rates of under– five mortality. Low cost, high impact interventions exist, however poor access remains a challenge. Integrated community case management (iCCM) was introduced to improve access to essential services for children 2–59 months through diagnosis, treatment and referral services by community health workers for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. This paper presents the results of an economic analysis of iCCM implementation in regions supported by UNICEF in six countries and assesses country–level scale–up implications. The paper focuses on costs to provider (health system and donors) to inform planning and budgeting, and does not cover cost–effectiveness. METHODS The analysis combines annualised set–up costs and 1 year implementation costs to calculate incremental economic and financial costs per treatment from a provider perspective. Affordability is assessed by calculating the per capita financial cost of the program as a percentage of the public health expenditure per capita. Time and financial implications of a 30% increase in utilization were modeled. Country scale–up is modeled for all children under 5 in rural areas. RESULTS Utilization of iCCM services varied from 0.05 treatment/y/under– five in Ethiopia to over 1 in Niger. There were between 10 and 603 treatments/community health worker (CHW)/y. Consultation cost represented between 93% and 22% of economic costs per treatment influenced by the level of utilization. Weighted economic cost per treatment ranged from US$ 13 (2015 USD) in Ghana to US$ 2 in Malawi. CHWs spent from 1 to 9 hours a week on iCCM. A 30% increase in utilization would add up to 2 hours a week, but reduce cost per treatment (by 20% in countries with low utilization). Country scale up would amount to under US$ 0.8 per capita total population (US$ 0.06–US$0.74), between 0.5% and 2% of public health expenditure per capita but 8% in Niger. CONCLUSIONS iCCM addresses unmet needs and impacts on under 5 mortality. An economic cost of under US$ 1/capita/y represents a sound investment. Utilization remains low however, and strategies must be developed as a priority to improve demand. Continued donor support is required to sustain iCCM services and strengthen its integration within national health systems.
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