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Cost-effectiveness of diagnostic for malaria in Extra-Amazon Region, Brazil

Maria Regina F de Oliveira12*, Silvana P Giozza3, Henry M Peixoto4 and Gustavo AS Romero12

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medicine, University of Brasília, Brasilia, Brazil

2 National Institute for Science and Technology for Health Technology Assessment (IATS/CNPq), Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

3 Ministry of Health, Brasilia, Brazil

4 State Secretariat of Health, Brasilia, Brazil

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Malaria Journal 2012, 11:390  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-390

Published: 23 November 2012



Rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) for malaria have been demonstrated to be effective and they should replace microscopy in certain areas.


The cost-effectiveness of five RDT and thick smear microscopy was estimated and compared. Data were collected on Brazilian Extra-Amazon Region. Data sources included the National Malaria Control Programme of the Ministry of Health, the National Healthcare System reimbursement table, laboratory suppliers and scientific literature. The perspective was that of the Brazilian public health system, the analytical horizon was from the start of fever until the diagnostic results provided to patient and the temporal reference was that of year 2010. Two costing methods were produced, based on exclusive-use microscopy or shared-use microscopy. The results were expressed in costs per adequately diagnosed cases in 2010 U.S. dollars. One-way sensitivity analysis was performed considering key model parameters.


In the cost-effectiveness analysis with exclusive-use microscopy, the RDT CareStart™ was the most cost-effective diagnostic strategy. Microscopy was the most expensive and most effective, with an additional case adequately diagnosed by microscopy costing US$ 35,550.00 in relation to CareStart™. In opposite, in the cost-effectiveness analysis with shared-use microscopy, the thick smear was extremely cost-effective. Introducing into the analytic model with shared-use microscopy a probability for individual access to the diagnosis, assuming a probability of 100% of access for a public health system user to any RDT and, hypothetically, of 85% of access to microscopy, this test saw its effectiveness reduced and was dominated by the RDT CareStart™.


The analysis of cost-effectiveness of malaria diagnosis technologies in the Brazilian Extra-Amazon Region depends on the exclusive or shared use of the microscopy. Following the assumptions of this study, shared-use microscopy would be the most cost-effective strategy of the six technologies evaluated. However, if used exclusively for diagnosing malaria, microscopy would be the worst use of resources. Microscopy would not be the most cost-effective strategy, even when structure is shared with other programmes, when the probability of a patient having access to it was reduced. Under these circumstances, the RDT CareStart™ would be the most cost-effective strategy.

Malaria; Diagnoses; Rapid test; Microscopy; Economic evaluation