Shillcutt, S.D., et al., Protocol for the economic evaluation of the diarrhea alleviation through zinc and oral rehydration salt therapy at scale through private and public providers in rural Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, India. Implement Sci, 2014. 9: p. 164.
Child diarrhea persists as a leading public health problem in India despite evidence supporting zinc and low osmolarity oral rehydration salts as effective treatments. Across 2 years in 2010–2013, the Diarrhea Alleviation using Zinc and Oral Rehydration Salts Therapy (DAZT) program was implemented to operationalize delivery of these interventions at scale through private and public sector providers in rural Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, India.
This study evaluates the cost-effectiveness of DAZT program activities relative to status quo conditions existing before the study, comparing a Monte Carlo simulation method with net-benefit regression, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. A control group was not included in the ‘before and after’ study design as zinc has proven effectiveness for diarrhea treatment. Costs will be calculated using a societal perspective including program implementation and household out-of-pocket payments for care seeking, as well as estimates of wages lost. Outcomes will be measured in terms of episodes averted in net-benefit regression and in terms of the years of life lost component of disability-adjusted life years in the method based on Monte Carlo simulation. The Lives Saved Tool will be used to model anticipated changes in mortality over time and deaths averted based on incremental changes in coverage of oral rehydration salts and zinc. Data will derive from cross-sectional surveys at the start, midpoint, and endpoint of the program. In addition, Lives Saved Tool (LiST) projections will be used to define the reference case value for the ceiling ratio in terms of natural units.
This study will be useful both in its application to an economic evaluation of a public health program in its implementation phase but also in its comparison of two methodological approaches to cost-effectiveness analysis. Both policy recommendations and methodological lessons learned will be discussed, recognizing the limitations in drawing strong policy conclusions due to the uncontrolled study design. It is expected that this protocol will be useful to researchers planning what method to use for the evaluation of similar before and after studies.