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James R, Khim K, Boudarene L, Yoong J, Phalla C, Saint S, Koeut P, Mao TE, Coker R, Khan MS. Tuberculosis active case finding in Cambodia: a pragmatic, cost-effectiveness comparison of three implementation models. BMC infectious diseases. 2017 Aug 22; 17(1):580.
BACKGROUND: Globally, almost 40% of tuberculosis (TB) patients remain undiagnosed, and those that are diagnosed often experience prolonged delays before initiating correct treatment, leading to ongoing transmission. While there is a push for active case finding (ACF) to improve early detection and treatment of TB, there is extremely limited evidence about the relative cost-effectiveness of different ACF implementation models. Cambodia presents a unique opportunity for addressing this gap in evidence as ACF has been implemented using different models, but no comparisons have been conducted. The objective of our study is to contribute to knowledge and methodology on comparing cost-effectiveness of alternative ACF implementation models from the health service perspective, using programmatic data, in order to inform national policy and practice. METHODS: We retrospectively compared three distinct ACF implementation models - door to door symptom screening in urban slums, checking contacts of TB patients, and door to door symptom screening focusing on rural populations aged above 55 - in terms of the number of new bacteriologically-positive pulmonary TB cases diagnosed and the cost of implementation assuming activities are conducted by the national TB program of Cambodia. We calculated the cost per additional case detected using the alternative ACF models. RESULTS: Our analysis, which is the first of its kind for TB, revealed that the ACF model based on door to door screening in poor urban areas of Phnom Penh was the most cost-effective (249 USD per case detected, 737 cases diagnosed), followed by the model based on testing contacts of TB patients (308 USD per case detected, 807 cases diagnosed), and symptomatic screening of older rural populations (316 USD per case detected, 397 cases diagnosed). CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides new evidence on the relative effectiveness and economics of three implementation models for enhanced TB case finding, in line with calls for data from 'routine conditions' to be included in disease control program strategic planning. Such cost-effectiveness comparisons are essential to inform resource allocation decisions of national policy makers in resource constraint settings. We applied a novel, pragmatic methodological approach, which was designed to provide results that are directly relevant to policy makers, costing the interventions from Cambodia's national TB program's perspective and using case finding data from implementation activities, rather than experimental settings.