Operational feasibility of lot quality assurance sampling (LQAS) as a tool in routine process monitoring of filariasis control programmes
Lot quality assurance sampling (LQAS) with two-stage sampling plan was applied for rapid monitoring of coverage after every round of mass drug administration (MDA). A Primary Health Centre (PHC) consisting of 29 villages in Thiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu was selected as the study area. Two threshold levels of coverage were used: threshold A (maximum: 60%; minimum: 40%) and threshold B (maximum: 80%; minimum: 60%). Based on these thresholds, one sampling plan each for A and B was derived with the necessary sample size and the number of allowable defectives (i.e. defectives mean those who have not received the drug). Using data generated through simple random sampling (SRSI) of 1750 individuals in the study area, LQAS was validated with the above two sampling plans for its diagnostic and field applicability. Simultaneously, a household survey (SRSH) was conducted for validation and cost-effectiveness analysis. Based on SRSH survey, the estimated coverage was 93.5% (CI: 91.7–95.3%). LQAS with threshold A revealed that by sampling a maximum of 14 individuals and by allowing four defectives, the coverage was ≥60% in >90% of villages at the first stage. Similarly, with threshold B by sampling a maximum of nine individuals and by allowing four defectives, the coverage was ≥80% in >90% of villages at the first stage. These analyses suggest that the sampling plan (14,4,52,25) of threshold A may be adopted in MDA to assess if a minimum coverage of 60% has been achieved. However, to achieve the goal of elimination, the sampling plan (9, 4, 42, 29) of threshold B can identify villages in which the coverage is <80% so that remedial measures can be taken. Cost-effectiveness analysis showed that both options of LQAS are more cost-effective than SRSH to detect a village with a given level of coverage. The cost per village was US $76.18 under SRSH. The cost of LQAS was US $65.81 and 55.63 per village for thresholds A and B respectively. The total financial cost of classifying a village correctly with the given threshold level of LQAS could be reduced by 14% and 26% of the cost of conventional SRSH method.