Estimated Cost-effectiveness of Solar-Powered Oxygen Delivery for Pneumonia in Young Children in Low-Resource Settings
Importance: Pneumonia is the leading cause of childhood mortality worldwide. Severe pneumonia associated with hypoxemia requires oxygen therapy; however, access remains unreliable in low- and middle-income countries. Solar-powered oxygen delivery (solar-powered O2) has been shown to be a safe and effective technology for delivering medical oxygen. Examining the cost-effectiveness of this innovation is critical for guiding implementation in low-resource settings.
Objective: To determine the cost-effectiveness of solar-powered O2 for treating children in low-resource settings with severe pneumonia who require oxygen therapy.
Design, setting, and participants: An economic evaluation study of solar-powered O2 was conducted from January 12, 2020, to February 27, 2021, in compliance with the World Health Organization Choosing Interventions That Are Cost-Effective (WHO-CHOICE) guidelines. Using existing literature, plausible ranges for component costs of solar-powered O2 were determined in order to calculate the expected total cost of implementation. The costs of implementing solar-powered O2 at a single health facility in low- and middle-income countries was analyzed for pediatric patients younger than 5 years who required supplemental oxygen.
Exposures: Treatment with solar-powered O2.
Main outcomes and measures: The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of solar-powered O2 was calculated as the additional cost per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) saved. Sensitivity of the ICER to uncertainties of input parameters was assessed through univariate and probabilistic sensitivity analyses.
Results: The ICER of solar-powered O2 was estimated to be $20 (US dollars) per DALY saved (95% CI, $2.83-$206) relative to the null case (no oxygen). Costs of solar-powered O2 were alternatively quantified as $26 per patient treated and $542 per life saved. Univariate sensitivity analysis found that the ICER was most sensitive to the volume of pediatric pneumonia admissions and the case fatality rate. The ICER was insensitive to component costs of solar-powered O2 systems. In secondary analyses, solar-powered O2 was cost-effective relative to grid-powered concentrators (ICER $140 per DALY saved) and cost-saving relative to fuel generator-powered concentrators (cost saving of $7120).
Conclusions and relevance: The results of this economic evaluation suggest that solar-powered O2 is a cost-effective solution for treating hypoxemia in young children in low- and middle-income countries, relative to no oxygen. Future implementation should prioritize sites with high rates of pediatric pneumonia admissions and mortality. This study provides economic support for expansion of solar-powered O2 and further assessment of its efficacy and mortality benefit.