Modelling the cost of community interventions to reduce child mortality in South Africa using the Lives Saved Tool (LiST)

Nkonki, Lungiswa L. ; Chola, Lumbwe ; Tugendhaft, Aviva ; Hofman, Karen (2017-08)

CITATION: Nkonki , L., Chola, L., Tugendhaft, A. & Hofman, K. 2017. Modelling the cost of community interventions to reduce child mortality in South Africa using the Lives Saved Tool (LiST). BMJ Open, 7(8):e011425. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011425.

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Objective: To estimate the costs and impact on reducing child mortality of scaling up interventions that can be delivered by community health workers at community level from a provider’s perspective. Setting: In this study, we used the Lives Saved Tool (LiST), a module in the spectrum software. Within the spectrum software, LiST interacts with other modules, the AIDS Impact Module, Family Planning Module and Demography Projections Module (Dem Proj), to model the impact of more than 60 interventions that affect cause-specific mortality. Participants: DemProj Based on National South African Data. Interventions: A total of nine interventions namely, breastfeeding promotion, complementary feeding, vitamin supplementation, hand washing with soap, hygienic disposal of children’s stools, oral rehydration solution, oral antibiotics for the treatment of pneumonia, therapeutic feeding for wasting and treatment for moderate malnutrition. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Reducing child mortality. Results: A total of 9 interventions can prevent 8891 deaths by 2030. Hand washing with soap (21%) accounts for the highest number of deaths prevented, followed by therapeutic feeding (19%) and oral rehydration therapy (16%). The top 5 interventions account for 77% of all deaths prevented. At scale, an estimated cost of US$169.5 million (US$3 per capita) per year will be required in community health worker costs. Conclusion: The use of community health workers offers enormous opportunities for saving lives. These programmes require appropriate financial investments. Findings from this study show what can be achieved if concerted effort is channelled towards the identified set of life-saving interventions.

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