Economic evaluations of interventions to reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality: a review of the evidence in LMICs and its implications for South Africa

SOURCE: Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.Maredza, L.Chola, K.Hofman
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9012

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Newborn mortality, comprising a third of all under-5 deaths, has hardly changed in low and middle income countries (LMICs) including South Africa over the past decade. To attain the MDG 4 target, greater emphasis must be placed on wide-scale implementation of proven, cost-effective interventions. This paper reviews economic evidence on effective neonatal health interventions in LMICs from 2000-2013; documents lessons for South African policy on neonatal health; and identifies gaps and areas for future research. A narrative review was performed in leading public health databases for full economic evaluations conducted between 2000 and 2013. Data extraction from the articles included in the review was guided by the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS) checklist, and the quality of the included economic evaluations was assessed using the Quality of Health Economics Studies Instrument (QHES). Twenty-seven economic evaluations were identified, from South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with those from sub-Saharan Africa primarily focused on HIV/AIDS. Packages of care to prevent neonatal mortality were more cost-effective than vertical interventions. A wide variability in methodological approaches challenges the comparability of study results between countries. In South Africa, there is limited cost-effectiveness evidence for the interventions proposed by the National Perinatal Morbidity and Mortality Committee. Neonatal strategies have a strong health system focus but this review suggests that strengthening community care could be an additional component for averting neonatal deaths. While some evidence exists, having a more complete understanding of how to most effectively deploy scarce resources for neonatal health in South Africa in the post-2015 era is essential.