BACKGROUND: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health problem requiring a reduction in inappropriate antibiotic prescribing. Point-of-Care C-Reactive Protein (POCCRP) tests could distinguish between bacterial and non-bacterial causes of fever in malaria-negative patients and thus reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing. However, the cost-effectiveness of POCCRP testing is unclear in low-income settings.
METHODS: A decision tree model was used to estimate cost-effectiveness of POCCRP versus current clinical practice at primary healthcare facilities in Afghanistan. Data were analysed from healthcare delivery and societal perspectives. Costs were reported in 2019 USD. Effectiveness was measured as correctly treated febrile malaria-negative patient. Cost, effectiveness and diagnostic accuracy parameters were obtained from primary data from a cost-effectiveness study on malaria rapid diagnostic tests in Afghanistan and supplemented with POCCRP-specific data sourced from the literature. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) reported the additional cost per additional correctly treated febrile malaria-negative patient over a 28-day time horizon. Univariate and probabilistic sensitivity analyses examined the impact of uncertainty of parameter inputs. Scenario analysis included economic cost of AMR per antibiotic prescription.
RESULTS: The model predicts that POCCRP intervention would result in 137 fewer antibiotic prescriptions (6%) with a 12% reduction (279 prescriptions) in inappropriate prescriptions compared to current clinical practice. ICERs were $14.33 (healthcare delivery), $11.40 (societal), and $9.78 (scenario analysis) per additional correctly treated case.
CONCLUSIONS: POCCRP tests could improve antibiotic prescribing among malaria-negative patients in Afghanistan. Cost-effectiveness depends in part on willingness to pay for reductions in inappropriate antibiotic prescribing that will only have modest impact on immediate clinical outcomes but may have long-term benefits in reducing overuse of antibiotics. A reduction in the overuse of antibiotics is needed and POCCRP tests may add to other interventions in achieving this aim. Assessment of willingness to pay among policy makers and donors and undertaking operational trials will help determine cost-effectiveness and assist decision making.
The paper was initially developed as part of an MSc dissertation by the lead author at the University of Aberdeen. The authors acknowledge the inputs from researchers into the primary data collection in 2009–2012 and CEA study for the introduction of Malaria RDTs in Afghanistan; not all of these authors met criterion for authorship on this paper.