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Free Content Cost-effectiveness of novel diagnostic tools for the diagnosis of tuberculosis

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SETTING: The potential cost-effectiveness of improved diagnostic tests for tuberculosis (TB) in resource-limited settings is unknown.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness of a hypothetical new point-of-care TB diagnostic test in South Africa, Brazil and Kenya.

DESIGN: Decision-analysis model, adding four diagnostic interventions (sputum smear microscopy, new test, smear plus new test and smear plus TB culture) to a baseline of existing infrastructure without smear.

RESULTS: Adding sputum smear was estimated to be more cost-effective (incremental cost per disability-adjusted life year [DALY] of $86 [South Africa], $131 [Brazil], $38 (Kenya]) than a new TB diagnostic with 70% sensitivity, 95% specificity and price of $20 per test ($198 [South Africa], $275 [Brazil], $84 [Kenya]). However, compared to sputum smear, smear plus new test averted 46–49% more DALYs per 1000 TB suspects (321 vs. 215 [South Africa], 243 vs. 166 [Brazil], 790 vs. 531 [Kenya]), at an incremental cost of $170 (Kenya) to $625 (Brazil) per DALY averted. Cost-effectiveness was most sensitive to the specificity and price of the new test, the baseline TB case detection rate and the discount rate.

CONCLUSION: Novel diagnostic tests for TB are potentially highly cost-effective. Cost-effectiveness is maximized by high-specificity, low-cost tests deployed to regions with poor infrastructure.
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Keywords: costs and cost analysis; developing countries; diagnostic techniques and procedures; point-of-care systems; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 2: Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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