Publications

Investment case for two-year post university speciality training in family medicine in Tajikistan

How much is needed for continuing and scaling up the improved education of family doctors?

Background

A new two-year Post University Specialty Training (PUST) programme in family medicine was introduced to improve the quality of postgraduate speciality medical education in Tajikistan. Postgraduate education of family doctors (FDs) needs to be urgently scaled up, as 38% of FD positions in Tajikistan remained unfilled in 2018. Moreover, the international financial support for the PUST programme is ending. This investment case assesses the minimum funding needed for the continuation and scale-up of PUST and establishes the rationale for the investment in the light of a recent evaluation.

Methods

The costs of the programme were calculated for 2018 and a scale-up forecast made for the period 2019–2023. The impact of the scale-up on the shortage of FDs was assessed. An evaluation using a Multiple Choice Questionnaire and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) assessed and compared theoretical knowledge, clinical skills and competencies of PUST trained and conventionally trained FDs.

Results

The annual costs of the programme were US$ 228,000 in 2018. The total investment needed for scaling up PUST from 31 new FDs in 2018 to 100 FD graduates each year by 2023 was US$ 802,000.However, when the retirement of FDs and population growth are considered, the scale-up will result only in maintaining the current level of FDs working and not solve the country’s FD shortage. The PUST FDs demonstrated significantly better clinical skills than the conventionally trained interns, scoring 60 and 45% of OSCE points, respectively. Theoretical knowledge showed a similar trend; PUST FDs answered 44% and interns 38% of the questions correctly.

Conclusions

The two-year PUST programme has clearly demonstrated it produces better skilled family doctors than the conventional one-year internship, albeit some enduring quality concerns do still prevail. The discontinuation of international support for PUST would be a major setback and risks potentially losing the benefits of the programme for family medicine and also other specialities. To guarantee the supply of adequately trained FDs and address the FD shortage, the PUST should be continued and scaled up. Therefore, it is essential that international support is extended and a gradual transition to sustainable national financing gets underway.

Budget impact analysis of cervical cancer screening in Portugal: comparison of cytology and primary HPV screening strategies

Background

Primary Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing is the currently recommended cervical cancer (CxCa) screening strategy by the Portuguese Society of Gynecology (SPG) clinical consensus. However, primary HPV testing has not yet been adopted by the Portuguese organized screening programs. This modelling study compares clinical benefits and costs of replacing the current practice, namely cytology with ASCUS HPV triage, with 2 comparative strategies: 1) HPV (pooled) test with cytology triage, or 2) HPV test with 16/18 genotyping and cytology triage, in organized CxCa screenings in Portugal.

Methods

A budget impact model compares screening performance, clinical outcomes and budget impact of the 3 screening strategies. A hypothetical cohort of 2,078,039 Portuguese women aged 25–64 years old women is followed for two screening cycles. Screening intervals are 3 years for cytology and 5 years for the HPV strategies. Model inputs include epidemiological, test performance and medical cost data. Clinical impacts are assessed with the numbers of CIN2–3 and CxCa detected. Annual costs, budget impact and cost of detecting one CIN2+ were calculated from a public healthcare payer’s perspective.

Results

HPV testing with HPV16/18 genotyping and cytology triage (comparator 2) shows the best clinical outcomes at the same cost as comparator 1 and is the most cost-effective CxCa screening strategy in the Portuguese context. Compared to screening with cytology, it would reduce annual CxCa incidence from 9.3 to 5.3 per 100,000, and CxCa mortality from 2.7 to 1.1 per 100,000. Further, it generates substantial cost savings by reducing the annual costs by €9.16 million (− 24%). The cost of detecting CIN2+ decreases from the current €15,845 to €12,795. On the other hand, HPV (pooled) test with cytology triage (comparator 1) reduces annual incidence of CxCa to 6.9 per 100,000 and CxCa mortality to 1.6 per 100,000, with a cost of €13,227 per CIN2+ detected with annual savings of €9.36 million (− 24%). The savings are mainly caused by increasing the length of routine screening intervals from three to five years.

Conclusion

The results support current clinical recommendations to replace cytology with HPV with 16/18 genotyping with cytology triage as screening algorithm.

The success factors of scaling-up Estonian sexual and reproductive health youth clinic network – from a grassroots initiative to a national programme 1991–2013

Background

A growing number of middle-income countries are scaling up youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health pilot projects to national level programmes. Yet, there are few case studies on successful national level scale-up of such programmes. Estonia is an excellent example of scale-up of a small grassroots adolescent sexual and reproductive health initiative to a national programme, which most likely contributed to improved adolescent sexual and reproductive health outcomes. This study; 1) documents the scale-up process of the Estonian youth clinic network 1991–2013, and 2) analyses factors that contributed to the successful scale-up. This research provides policy makers and programme managers with new insights to success factors of the scale-up, that can be used to support planning, implementation and scale-up of adolescent sexual and reproductive health programmes in other countries.

Methods

Information on the scale-up process and success factors were collected by conducting a literature review and interviewing key stakeholders. The findings were analysed using the WHO-ExpandNet framework, which provides a step-by-step process approach for design, implementation and assessment of the results of scaling-up health innovations.

Results

The scale-up was divided into two main phases: 1) planning the scale-up strategy 1991–1995 and 2) managing the scaling-up 1996–2013. The planning phase analysed innovation, user organizations (youth clinics), environment and resource team (a national NGO and international assistance). The managing phase examines strategic choices, advocacy, organization, resource mobilization, monitoring and evaluation, strategic planning and management of the scale-up.

Conclusions

The main factors that contributed to the successful scale-up in Estonia were: 1) favourable social and political climate, 2) clear demonstrated need for the adolescent services, 3) a national professional organization that advocated, coordinated and represented the youth clinics, 4) enthusiasm and dedication of personnel, 5) acceptance by user organizations and 6) sustainable funding through the national health insurance system. Finally, the measurement and recognition of the remarkable improvement of adolescent SRH outcomes in Estonia would not have been possible without development of good reporting and monitoring systems, and many studies and international publications.

Cost analysis and exploratory cost-effectiveness of youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services in the Republic of Moldova

Background

Youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services (YFHS) have high priority in many countries. Yet, little is known about the cost and cost-effectiveness of good quality YFHS in resource limited settings. This paper analyses retrospectively costs and potential cost-effectiveness of four well performing youth-friendly health centres (YFHC) in Moldova. This study assesses: (1) what were the costs of YFHSs at centre level, (2) how much would scaling-up to a national good quality YFHS programme cost, and (3) was the programme potentially cost-effective?

Methods

Four well performing YFHCs were selected for the study. YFHS costs were analysed per centre, funding source, service and person reached. The costing results were extrapolated to estimate cost of a good quality national YFHS programme in Moldova. A threshold analysis was carried out to estimate the required impact level for the YFHSs to break-even (become cost saving).

Results

Average annual cost of a well performing YFHC was USD 26,000 in 2011. 58% was financed by the National Health Insurance Company and the rest by external donors (42%). Personnel salaries were the largest expense category (47%). The annual implementation costs of a good quality YFHSs in all 38 YFHCs of Moldova were estimated to be USD 1.0 million. The results of the threshold analysis indicate that the annual break-even impact points in a YFHC for: 1) STI services would be >364 averted STIs, 2) early pregnancy and contraceptive services >178 averted unwanted pregnancies, and 3) HIV services only >0.65 averted new HIV infections.

Conclusions

The costing results highlight the following: 1) significant additional resources would be required for implementation of a good quality national YFHS programme, 2) the four well performing YFHCs rely heavily on external funding (42%), 3) which raises questions about financial sustainability of the programme. At the same time results of the threshold analysis are encouraging. The result suggest that, together the three SRH components (STI, early pregnancy and contraception, and HIV) are potentially cost saving. High cost savings resulting from averted lifetime treatment cost of HIV infected persons are likely to off-set the costs of STIs and unwanted pregnancies.

Cost analysis of school-based sexuality education programs in six countries

Background

Policy-makers who are making decisions on sexuality education programs face important economic questions: what are the costs of developing sexuality education programs; and what are the costs of implementing and scaling them up? This study responds to these questions by assessing the costs of six school-based sexuality education programs (Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, India, Estonia and the Netherlands).

Methods

Cost analyses were carried out in schools that were fully implementing a SE program, as this best reflects the resources needed to run an effective program. The costs were analyzed from the program perspective, meaning that all costs borne by the governmental and (international) non-governmental organizations supporting the program were included. Cost analyses were based on financial records, interviews and school surveys.

We distinguished costs in three consecutive program phases: development, update and implementation. Recommendations on the most efficient program characteristics and scale-up pathways were drawn from results of three fully scaled up programs (Estonia, Nigeria and the Netherlands), scale-up scenarios of two pilot programs (Kenya and Indonesia), and an implementation plan (India), The costs of the programs were compared by converting cost per student reached in US dollars (US$) to international dollars (I$).

Results

Findings revealed a range of costs and coverage of sexuality education programs. Costs per student reached were; US$7 in Nigeria, US$13.50 in India, US$33 in Estonia and the Netherlands, US$50 in Kenya, and US$160 in Indonesia.

Conclusions

Intra-curricular sexuality education programs have, because of their compulsory nature, the most potential to be scaled up and are therefore most efficient. Extra-curricular sexuality education programs have lower potential to be scaled up and are therefore less efficient. In terms of class size and number of lessons, countries need to strike a balance between the quality (demanding smaller classes and many lessons) and the costs (demanding larger classes and fewer lessons). Advocacy was a significant cost component.

Cost and cost-effectiveness analysis of school-based sexuality education programmes in six countries

This landmark study on the cost and cost-effectiveness of school-based sexuality education looks at a range of programmes across low-, middle- and high-income countries, including Estonia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, the Netherlands and Nigeria. Though programmes vary widely in terms of design and scale, it is clear that integrated mandatory programmes are more efficient, as are those adapted from existing models. The costs per learner receiving the curriculum in scaled-up, well established programmes range from US$ 6.90 in Nigeria to US$ 32.80 in the Netherlands. Smaller pilot programmes in Kenya and Indonesia indicate significantly higher costs.

The study highlights the cost-effectiveness, and potential cost savings in a context like Estonia, where a national sexuality education programme was rolled out alongside youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. Between 2001 and 2009, an estimated 13,490 health events were averted, including 1,970 HIV infections, at a potential lifetime cost of US$67,825 per patient.

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