Estimating the cost of cervical cancer screening in five developing countries
Program in Health Decision Science, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, 718 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, USA
Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation 2006, 4:13 doi:10.1186/1478-7547-4-13Published: 3 August 2006
Cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs) can provide useful information to policymakers concerned with the broad allocation of resources as well as to local decision makers choosing between different options for reducing the burden from a single disease. For the latter, it is important to use country-specific data when possible and to represent cost differences between countries that might make one strategy more or less attractive than another strategy locally. As part of a CEA of cervical cancer screening in five developing countries, we supplemented limited primary cost data by developing other estimation techniques for direct medical and non-medical costs associated with alternative screening approaches using one of three initial screening tests: simple visual screening, HPV DNA testing, and cervical cytology. Here, we report estimation methods and results for three cost areas in which data were lacking.
To supplement direct medical costs, including staff, supplies, and equipment depreciation using country-specific data, we used alternative techniques to quantify cervical cytology and HPV DNA laboratory sample processing costs. We used a detailed quantity and price approach whose face validity was compared to an adaptation of a US laboratory estimation methodology. This methodology was also used to project annual sample processing capacities for each laboratory type. The cost of sample transport from the clinic to the laboratory was estimated using spatial models. A plausible range of the cost of patient time spent seeking and receiving screening was estimated using only formal sector employment and wages as well as using both formal and informal sector participation and country-specific minimum wages. Data sources included primary data from country-specific studies, international databases, international prices, and expert opinion. Costs were standardized to year 2000 international dollars using inflation adjustment and purchasing power parity.
Cervical cytology laboratory processing costs were I$1.57–3.37 using the quantity and price method compared to I$1.58–3.02 from the face validation method. HPV DNA processing costs were I$6.07–6.59. Rural laboratory transport costs for cytology were I$0.12–0.64 and I$0.14–0.74 for HPV DNA laboratories. Under assumptions of lower resource efficiency, these estimates increased to I$0.42–0.83 and I$0.54–1.06. Estimates of the value of an hour of patient time using only formal sector participation were I$0.07–4.16, increasing to I$0.30–4.80 when informal and unpaid labor was also included. The value of patient time for traveling, waiting, and attending a screening visit was I$0.68–17.74. With the total cost of screening for cytology and HPV DNA testing ranging from I$4.85–40.54 and I$11.30–48.77 respectively, the cost of the laboratory transport, processing, and patient time accounted for 26–66% and 33–65% of the total costs. From a payer perspective, laboratory transport and processing accounted for 18–48% and 25–60% of total direct medical costs of I$4.11–19.96 and I$10.57–28.18 respectively.
Cost estimates of laboratory processing, sample transport, and patient time account for a significant proportion of total cervical cancer screening costs in five developing countries and provide important inputs for CEAs of alternative screening modalities.