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A comparative analysis of the cost-effectiveness of treatment based on parasitological and symptomatic screening for Schistosoma mansoni in Burundi

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OBJECTIVES  To assess the cost-effectiveness of three alternative screening strategies in delivering treatment to patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of S. mansoni, using data collected from 17 PHCCs in the Rusizi Plain, Burundi. The three strategies were: (1) screening all symptomatic patients using a Kato-Katz smear and treating only the ones found positive; (2) treating all symptomatic patients or (3) treating only those presenting with symptoms of severe diarrhoea (blood in stool).

METHODS  The database consisted of 41 051 visits of symptomatic patients to the 17 PHCCs during 1990. Effectiveness was measured as the number of infected patients treated (gold standard: 25-mg Kato-Katz smear). Cost-effectiveness ratios (CERs) (cost in US$ per infected patient treated) were used to compare the control strategies. Sensitivity analysis was performed to assess the effect of drug price and prevalence of infection on the CERs.

RESULTS  The overall prevalence of S. mansoni infection was 9.5% (95% CI = 9.1%, 9.9%). Treating only those with severe symptoms of infection would have left 92% of infected patients untreated. Performing a Kato-Katz smear to confirm the diagnosis was more cost-effective than treating all symptomatic patients on a presumptive basis, with CERs of 4.2 US$ and 12.43 US$ per infected person treated, respectively. Sensitivity analysis showed that, for a cost of 0.99 US$ per dose of praziquantel, the Kato-Katz option remained the most cost-effective approach for prevalences under 76%. For a drug price of 0.21 US$ per dose, both strategies would have become equivalent. The latter value varied extensively per PHCC (range 0.17 US$ to 0.51 US$), due to the different prevalences of infection (range 0.5% to 34.3%).

CONCLUSION  We found that using severe diarrhoea as an indicator for infection was not appropriate, and that screening symptomatic patients with the Kato-Katz method remained the most cost-effective approach in the given setting. The CER of treating all symptomatic patients on a presumptive basis depended very much on the drug price and the endemic level.

Keywords: Schistosoma mansoni; cost-effectiveness analysis; praziquantel; primary health care centres; screening; sensitivity analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The Wellcome Trust Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Disease, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK 2: Planning and Technical Guidance, Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Publication date: 2000-03-01

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