Costs and cost-effectiveness analyses of mCARE strategies for promoting care seeking of maternal and newborn health services in rural Bangladesh

Youngji Jo, Amnesty E. LeFevre, Katherine Healy, Neelu Singh, Kelsey Alland, Sucheta Mehra, Hasmot Ali, Saijuddin Shaikh, Rezawanul Haque, Parul S Christian, Alain B Labrique

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Objective We examined the incremental cost-effectiveness between two mHealth programs, implemented from 2011 to 2015 in rural Bangladesh: (1) Comprehensive mCARE package as an intervention group and (2) Basic mCARE package as a control group. Methods Both programs included a core package of census enumeration and pregnancy surveillance provided by an established cadre of digitally enabled community health workers (CHWs). In the comprehensive mCARE package, short message service (SMS) and home visit reminders were additionally sent to pregnant women (n = 610) and CHWs (n = 70) to promote the pregnant women’s care-seeking of essential maternal and newborn care services. Economic costs were assessed from a program perspective inclusive of development, start-up, and implementation phases. Effects were calculated as disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and the number of newborn deaths averted. For comparative purposes, we normalized our evaluation to estimate total costs and total newborn deaths averted per 1 million people in a community for both groups. Uncertainty was assessed using probabilistic sensitivity analyses with Monte Carlo simulation. Results The addition of SMS and home visit reminders based on a mobile phone-facilitated pregnancy surveillance system was highly cost effective at a cost per DALY averted of $31 (95% uncertainty range: $19–81). The comprehensive mCARE program had at least 88% probability of being highly cost-effective as compared to the basic mCARE program based on the threshold of Bangladesh’s GDP per capita. Conclusion mHealth strategies such as SMS and home visit reminders on a well-established pregnancy surveillance system may improve service utilization and program cost-effectiveness in low-resource settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0223004
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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