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Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2010 Apr;27(4):496-509. doi: 10.1080/19440040903437865.

Health economic impacts and cost-effectiveness of aflatoxin-reduction strategies in Africa: case studies in biocontrol and post-harvest interventions.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA.


Advances in health economics have proven useful in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of interventions, where the benefit usually takes the form of improved health outcomes rather than market outcomes. The paper performs health-based cost-effectiveness analyses of two potential aflatoxin control strategies in Africa: (1) pre-harvest biocontrol, using atoxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus competitively to exclude toxigenic strains from colonizing maize in Nigeria; and (2) post-harvest interventions in a package to reduce aflatoxin accumulation in groundnuts in Guinea. It is described how health benefits gained from each intervention, in terms of fewer aflatoxin-induced hepatocellular carcinoma cases, can be compared with the costs of implementing the interventions. It is found that both interventions would be extremely cost-effective if applied widely in African agriculture. That is, the monetized value of lives saved and quality of life gained by reducing aflatoxin-induced hepatocellular carcinoma far exceeds the cost of either biocontrol or the post-harvest intervention package to achieve those health benefits. The estimated cost-effectiveness ratio (CER; gross domestic product multiplied by disability-adjusted life years saved per unit cost) for biocontrol in Nigerian maize ranged from 5.10 to 24.8; while the estimated CER for the post-harvest intervention package in Guinean groundnuts ranged from 0.21 to 2.08. Any intervention with a CER > 1 is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be 'very cost-effective', while an intervention with a CER > 0.33 is considered 'cost-effective'. Aside from cost-effectiveness, public health interventions must be readily accepted by the public, and must have financial and infrastructural support to be feasible in the parts of the world where they are most needed.

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