Nutritional supplementation: the additional costs of managing children infected with HIV in resource‐constrained settings
To explore the financial implications of applying the WHO guidelines for the nutritional management of HIV‐infected children in a rural South African HIV programme.
WHO guidelines describe Nutritional Care Plans (NCPs) for three categories of HIV‐infected children: NCP‐A: growing adequately; NCP‐B: weight‐for‐age z‐score (WAZ) ≤−2 but no evidence of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), confirmed weight loss/growth curve flattening, or condition with increased nutritional needs (e.g. tuberculosis); NCP‐C: SAM. In resource‐constrained settings, children requiring NCP‐B or NCP‐C usually need supplementation to achieve the additional energy recommendation. We estimated the proportion of children initiating antiretroviral treatment (ART) in the Hlabisa HIV Programme who would have been eligible for supplementation in 2010. The cost of supplying 26‐weeks supplementation as a proportion of the cost of supplying ART to the same group was calculated.
A total of 251 children aged 6 months to 14 years initiated ART. Eighty‐eight required 6‐month NCP‐B, including 41 with a WAZ ≤−2 (no evidence of SAM) and 47 with a WAZ >−2 with co‐existent morbidities including tuberculosis. Additionally, 25 children had SAM and required 10‐weeks NCP‐C followed by 16‐weeks NCP‐B. Thus, 113 of 251 (45%) children were eligible for nutritional supplementation at an estimated overall cost of $11 136, using 2010 exchange rates. These costs are an estimated additional 11.6% to that of supplying 26‐week ART to the 251 children initiated.
It is essential to address nutritional needs of HIV‐infected children to optimise their health outcomes. Nutritional supplementation should be integral to, and budgeted for, in HIV programmes.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2013