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Bull World Health Organ. 2008 Jul;86(7):542-51.

Schizophrenia treatment in the developing world: an interregional and multinational cost-effectiveness analysis.

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Department of Health Systems Financing, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.



Schizophrenia is a highly disabling disease and is costly to treat. We set out to establish what are the most cost-effective interventions applicable to developing regions and countries.


Analysis was undertaken at the level of three WHO subregions spanning the Americas, Africa and South-East Asia, and subsequently in three member states (Chile, Nigeria and Sri Lanka). A state transition model was used to estimate the population-level health impact of older and newer antipsychotic drugs, alone or in combination with psychosocial intervention. Total population-level costs (in international dollars or local currencies) and effectiveness (measured in disability-adjusted life years averted) were combined to form cost-effectiveness ratios.


The most cost-effective interventions were those using older antipsychotic drugs combined with psychosocial treatment, delivered via a community-based service model (I$ 2350-7158 per disability-adjusted life year averted across the three subregions, I$ 1670-3400 following country-level contextualisation within each of these subregions). The relative cost-effectiveness of interventions making use of newer, "atypical" antipsychotic drugs is estimated to be much less favourable.


By moving to a community-based service model and selecting efficient treatment options, the cost of substantially increasing treatment coverage is not high (less than I$ 1 investment per capita). Taken together with other priority-setting criteria such as disease severity, vulnerability and human rights protection, this study suggests that a great deal more could be done for persons and families living under the spectre of this disorder.

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