Vijayaraghavan, M., et al., Economic evaluation of a Child Health Days strategy to deliver multiple maternal and child health interventions in Somalia. J Infect Dis, 2012. 205 Suppl 1: p. S134-40.
Child Health Days (CHDs) are increasingly used by countries to periodically deliver multiple maternal and child health interventions as time-limited events, particularly to populations not reached by routine health services. In countries with a weak health infrastructure, this strategy could be used to reach many underserved populations with an integrated package of services. In this study, we estimate the incremental costs, impact, cost-effectiveness, and return on investment of 2 rounds of CHDs that were conducted in Somalia in 2009 and 2010.
We use program costs and population estimates reported by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund to estimate the average cost per beneficiary for each of 9 interventions delivered during 2 rounds of CHDs implemented during the periods of December 2008 to May 2009 and August 2009 to April 2010. Because unstable areas were unreachable, we calculated costs for targeted and accessible beneficiaries. We model the impact of the CHDs on child mortality using the Lives Saved Tool, convert these estimates of mortality reduction to life years saved, and derive the cost-effectiveness ratio and the return on investment.
The estimated average incremental cost per intervention for each targeted beneficiary was $0.63, with the cost increasing to $0.77 per accessible beneficiary. The CHDs were estimated to save the lives of at least 10 000, or 500 000 life years for both rounds combined. The CHDs were cost-effective at $34.00/life year saved. For every $1 million invested in the strategy, an estimated 615 children’s lives, or 29 500 life years, were saved. If the pentavalent vaccine had been delivered during the CHDs instead of diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine, an additional 5000 children’s lives could have been saved.
Despite high operational costs, CHDs are a very cost-effective service delivery strategy for addressing the leading causes of child mortality in a conflict setting like Somalia and compare favorably with other interventions rated as health sector “best buys” in sub-Saharan Africa.