Cost-effectiveness of childhood cancer treatment in Egypt: Lessons to promote high-value care in a resource-limited setting based on real-world evidence

Background
Childhood cancer in low-and middle-income countries is a global health priority, however, the perception that treatment is unaffordable has potentially led to scarce investment in resources, contributing to inferior survival. In this study, we analysed real-world data about the cost-effectiveness of treating 8886 children with cancer at a large resource-limited paediatric oncology setting in Egypt, between 2013 and 2017, stratified by cancer type, stage/risk, and disease status.

Methods
Childhood cancer costs (USD 2019) were calculated from a health-system perspective, and 5-year overall survival was used to represent clinical effectiveness. We estimated cost-effectiveness as the cost per disability-adjusted life-year (cost/DALY) averted, adjusted for utility decrement for late-effect morbidity and mortality.

Findings
For all cancers combined, cost/DALY averted was $1384 (0.5 × GDP/capita), which is very cost-effective according to WHO–CHOICE thresholds. Ratio of cost/DALY averted to GDP/capita varied by cancer type/sub-type and disease severity (range: 0.1–1.6), where it was lowest for Hodgkin lymphoma, and retinoblastoma, and highest for high-risk acute leukaemia, and high-risk neuroblastoma. Treatment was cost-effective (ratio <3 × GDP/capita) for all cancer types/subtypes and risk/stage groups, except for relapsed/refractory acute leukaemia, and relapsed/progressive patients with brain tumours, hepatoblastoma, Ewing sarcoma, and neuroblastoma. Treatment cost-effectiveness was affected by the high costs and inferior survival of advanced-stage/high-risk and relapsed/progressive cancers.

Interpretation
Childhood cancer treatment is cost-effective in a resource-limited setting in Egypt, except for some relapsed/progressive cancer groups. We present evidence-based recommendations and lessons to promote high-value in care delivery, with implications on practice and policy.

Funding
Egypt Cancer Network; NIHR School for Primary Care Research; ALSAC.

Highlights from Choosing Wisely 2022 for Resource Limited Settings: Reducing Low Value Cancer Care for Sustainability conference, 17th–18th September, Mumbai, India

The ‘Choosing Wisely 2022’ conference, organised by the ecancer foundation, was held at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India, on 17 and 18 September. It was a successful event with 159 delegates attending it in person and around 328 delegates attending online. Thirty oncology experts from across the world shared their thoughts during this meeting. The theme of the conference was to focus on cancer care, in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The emphasis of discussion was on ways to select more cost-effective and high value treatments and interventions and minimise financial toxicity. In addition, cancer research from LMICs needs to be improved substantially. Collaboration and networking amongst cancer institutions in LMICs is essential.

Economic Evaluation of a Global Reconstructive Surgery Visiting Educator Program

Objective:
The objective of this study was to quantify the cost-effectiveness and economic value of a reconstructive surgery visiting educator trip program in a resource-constrained setting.

Background:
Reconstructive surgical capacity remains inadequate in low- and middle-income countries, resulting in chronic disability and a significant economic toll. Education and training of the local surgical workforce to sustainably expand capacity have been increasingly encouraged, but economic analyses of these interventions are lacking.

Methods:
Data were analyzed from 12 visiting educator trips and independently-performed surgical procedures at 3 Vietnamese hospitals between 2014 and 2019. A cost-effectiveness analysis was performed using standardized methodology and thresholds to determine cost-effectiveness. Sensitivity analyses were performed with disability weights, discounting, and costs from different perspectives. Economic benefit was estimated using both the human capital method and the value of a statistical life method, and a benefit-cost ratio was computed.

Results:
In the base case analysis, the visiting educator program was very cost-effective at $581 per disability-adjusted life year (DALY) averted. Economic benefit was between $21·6 million and $29·3 million, corresponding to a 12- to 16-fold return on investment. Furthermore, when considering only costs to the organization, the cost decreased to $61 per DALY averted, with a 113- to 153-fold return on investment for the organization.

Conclusions:
Visiting educator programs, which build local reconstructive surgical capacity in limited-resource environments, can be very cost-effective with significant economic benefit and return on investment. These findings may help guide organizations, donors, and policymakers in resource allocation in global surgery.

Cost-effectiveness of gasless laparoscopy as a means to increase provision of minimally invasive surgery for abdominal conditions in rural North-East India

Laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive technique to treat abdominal conditions, has been shown to produce equivalent safety and efficacy with quicker return to normal function compared to open surgery. As such, it is widely accepted as a cost-effective alternative to open surgery for many abdominal conditions. However, access to laparoscopic surgery in rural North-East India is limited, in part due to limited equipment, unreliable supplies of CO2 gas, lack of surgical expertise and a shortage of anaesthetists. We evaluate the cost-effectiveness of gasless laparoscopy as a means to increase provision of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for abdominal conditions in rural North-East India. A decision tree model was developed to compare costs, evaluated from a patient perspective, and health outcomes, disability adjusted life years (DALYs), associated with gasless laparoscopy, conventional laparoscopy or open abdominal surgery in rural North-East India. Results indicate that MIS (performed by conventional or gasless laparoscopy) is less costly and produces better outcomes, fewer DALYs, than open surgery. These results were consistent even when gasless laparoscopy was analysed using least favourable data from the literature. Scaling up provision of MIS through increased access to gasless laparoscopy would reduce the cost burden to patients and increase DALYs averted. Based on a sample of 12 facilities in the North-East region, if scale up was achieved so that all essential surgeries amenable to laparoscopic surgery were performed as such (using conventional or gasless laparoscopy), 64% of DALYS related to these surgeries could be averted, equating to an additional 454.8 DALYs averted in these facilities alone. The results indicate that gasless laparoscopy is likely to be a cost-effective alternative to open surgery for abdominal conditions in rural North-East India and provides a possible bridge to the adoption of full laparoscopic services.

A Systematic Review of the Cost-Effectiveness of Cleft Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: What is Needed?

Objective
The objective of this paper is to conduct a systematic review that summarizes the cost-effectiveness of cleft lip and/or palate (CL/P) care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) based on existing literature.

Design
We searched eleven electronic databases for articles from January 1, 2000 to December 29, 2020. This study is registered in PROSPERO (CRD42020148402). Two reviewers independently conducted primary and secondary screening, and data extraction.

Setting
All CL/P cost-effectiveness analyses in LMIC settings.

Patients, Participants
In total, 2883 citations were screened. Eleven articles encompassing 1,001,675 patients from 86 LMICs were included.

Main Outcome Measures
We used cost-effectiveness thresholds of 1% to 51% of a country’s gross domestic product per capita (GDP/capita), a conservative threshold recommended for LMICs. Quality appraisal was conducted using the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) checklist.

Results
Primary CL/P repair was cost-effective at the threshold of 51% of a country’s GDP/capita across all studies. However, only 1 study met at least 70% of the JBI criteria. There is a need for context-specific cost and health outcome data for primary CL/P repair, complications, and existing multidisciplinary management in LMICs.

Conclusions
Existing economic evaluations suggest primary CL/P repair is cost-effective, however context-specific local data will make future cost-effectiveness analyses more relevant to local decision-makers and lead to better-informed resource allocation decisions in LMICs.

Effect of Door-to-Door Screening and Awareness Generation Activities in the Catchment Areas of Vision Centers on Service Use: Protocol for a Randomized Experimental Study

Background:
A vision center (VC) is a significant eye care service model to strengthen primary eye care services. VCs have been set up at the block level, covering a population of 150,000-250,000 in rural areas in North India. Inadequate use by rural communities is a major challenge to sustainability of these VCs. This not only reduces the community’s vision improvement potential but also impacts self-sustainability and limits expansion of services in rural areas. The current literature reports a lack of awareness regarding eye diseases and the need for care, social stigmas, low priority being given to eye problems, prevailing gender discrimination, cost, and dependence on caregivers as factors preventing the use of primary eye care.

Objective:
Our organization is planning an awareness-cum-engagement intervention—door-to-door basic eye checkup and visual acuity screening in VCs coverage areas—to connect with the community and improve the rational use of VCs.

Methods:
In this randomized, parallel-group experimental study, we will select 2 VCs each for the intervention arm and the control arm from among poor, low-performing VCs (ie, walk-in of ≤10 patients/day) in our 2 operational regions (Vrindavan, Mathura District, and Mohammadi, Kheri District) of Uttar Pradesh. Intervention will include door-to-door screening and awareness generation in 8-12 villages surrounding the VCs, and control VCs will follow existing practices of awareness generation through community activities and health talks. Data will be collected from each VC for 4 months of intervention. Primary outcomes will be an increase in the number of walk-in patients, spectacle advise and uptake, referral and uptake for cataract and specialty surgery, and operational expenses. Secondary outcomes will be uptake of refraction correction and referrals for cataract and other eye conditions. Differences in the number of walk-in patients, referrals, uptake of services, and cost involved will be analyzed.

Results:
Background work involved planning of interventions and selection of VCs has been completed. Participant recruitment has begun and is currently in progress.

Conclusions:
Through this study, we will analyze whether our door-to-door intervention is effective in increasing the number of visits to a VC and, thus, overall sustainability. We will also study the cost-effectiveness of this intervention to recommend its scalability.

Cost-effectiveness of club-foot treatment in low-income and middle-income countries by the Ponseti method.

Club foot is a common congenital deformity affecting 150?000-200?000 children every year. Untreated patients end up walking on the side or back of the affected foot, with severe social and economic consequences. Club foot is highly treatable by the Ponseti method, a non-invasive technique that has been described as highly suitable for use in resource-limited settings. To date, there has been no evaluation of its cost-effectiveness ratio, defined as the cost of averting one disability-adjusted life year (DALY), a composite measure of the impact of premature death and disability. In this study, we aimed to calculate the average cost-effectiveness ratio of the Ponseti method for correcting club foot in sub-Saharan Africa.Using data from 12 sub-Saharan African countries provided by the international non-profit organisation CURE Clubfoot, which implements several Ponseti treatment programmes around the world, we estimated the average cost of the point-of-care treatment for club foot in these countries. We divided the cost of treatment with the average number of DALYs that can be averted by the Ponseti treatment, assuming treatment is successful in 90% of patients.We found the average cost of the Ponseti treatment to be US$167 per patient. The average number of DALYs averted was 7.42, yielding a cost-effectiveness ratio of US$22.46 per DALY averted. To test the robustness of our calculation different variables were used and these yielded a cost range of US$5.28-29.75. This is less than a tenth of the cost of many other treatment modalities used in resource-poor settings today.The Ponseti method for the treatment of club foot is cost-effective and practical in a low-income country setting. These findings could be used to raise the priority for implementing Ponseti treatment in areas where patients are still lacking access to the life-changing intervention.