How much will it cost to eradicate lymphatic filariasis? An analysis of the financial and economic costs of intensified efforts against lymphatic filariasis
Lymphatic filariasis (LF), a neglected tropical disease (NTD) preventable through mass drug administration (MDA), is one of six diseases deemed possibly eradicable. Previously we developed one LF elimination scenario, which assumes MDA scale-up to continue in all countries that have previously undertaken MDA. In contrast, our three previously developed eradication scenarios assume all LF endemic countries will undertake MDA at an average (eradication I), fast (eradication II), or instantaneous (eradication III) rate of scale-up. In this analysis we use a micro-costing model to project the financial and economic costs of each of these scenarios in order to provide evidence to decision makers about the investment required to eliminate and eradicate LF.
Costing was undertaken from a health system perspective, with all results expressed in 2012 US dollars (USD). A discount rate of 3% was applied to calculate the net present value of future costs. Prospective NTD budgets from LF endemic countries were reviewed to preliminarily determine activities and resources necessary to undertake a program to eliminate LF at a country level. In consultation with LF program experts, activities and resources were further reviewed and a refined list of activities and necessary resources, along with their associated quantities and costs, were determined and grouped into the following activities: advocacy and communication, capacity strengthening, coordination and strengthening partnerships, data management, ongoing surveillance, monitoring and supervision, drug delivery, and administration. The costs of mapping and undertaking transmission assessment surveys and the value of donated drugs and volunteer time were also accounted for. Using previously developed scenarios and deterministic estimates of MDA duration, the financial and economic costs of interrupting LF transmission under varying rates of MDA scale-up were then modelled using a micro-costing approach. The elimination scenario, which includes countries that previously undertook MDA, is estimated to cost 929 million USD (95% Credible Interval: 884m-972m). Proceeding to eradication is anticipated to require a higher financial investment, estimated at 1.24 billion USD (1.17bn-1.30bn) in the eradication III scenario (immediate scale-up), with eradication II (intensified scale-up) projected at 1.27 billion USD (1.21bn-1.33bn), and eradication I (slow scale-up) estimated at 1.29 billion USD (1.23bn-1.34bn). The economic costs of the eradication III scenario are estimated at approximately 7.57 billion USD (7.12bn-7.94bn), while the elimination scenario is projected to have an economic cost of 5.21 billion USD (4.91bn-5.45bn). Countries in the AFRO region will require the greatest investment to reach elimination or eradication, but also stand to gain the most in cost savings. Across all scenarios, capacity strengthening and advocacy and communication represent the greatest financial costs, whereas mapping, post-MDA surveillance, and administration comprise the least.
Though challenging to implement, our results indicate that financial and economic savings are greatest under the eradication III scenario. Thus, if eradication for LF is the objective, accelerated scale-up is projected to be the best investment.