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Free Content Unaffordable or cost-effective?: introducing an emergency referral system in rural Niger

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Summary Objectives 

An important investment was made in two health districts in Niger to organize an emergency referral system. This study estimates its impact and cost-effectiveness in relation with external determinants. Methods 

After installing a solar radio network in the health centres, emergency calls and related data were monitored over 7 years and investment and recurrent costs for the system were estimated. Results 

The number of emergency calls increased significantly in both districts. In 2003, the total yearly cost for the district amounted to US$ 14 147, the cost per useful and successful call was US$ 49 and the cost per inhabitant and per year was about US$ 0.06. Conclusion 

The impressive and immediate impact on the health system, the relatively low recurrent cost and the minimal management requirements for the health service make the investment very worthwhile. Organizing emergency evacuation systems should be a priority for any health district in the world.
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Keywords: accessibility; communication; cost-effectiveness; emergency transport; referral system

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Belgian Technical Cooperation Agency (BTC), Brussels, Belgium 2: Ministry of Health, Niamey, Niger 3: Ministry of Health, Ouallam District, Niger 4: WHO, Geneva, Switzerland

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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