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Trop Med Int Health. 2011 Nov;16(11):1417-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2011.02856.x. Epub 2011 Aug 21.

Costs of interventions for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children.

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  • 1Center for Evaluation Research and Surveys, Division of Health Economics, National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca, Mexico.



To review the published and grey literature for information regarding the costs and cost-effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving the welfare of orphans and vulnerable children owing to HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries.


We carried out a search of the peer-reviewed literature through PubMed, EconLit, and Web of Science for the period January 2000 to December 2010. We also extensively reviewed the grey literature through generalized web searches and consultations with experts and searches of the web pages of the main organizations active in providing services to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). The search yielded 216 articles; cross-sectional or longitudinal studies and articles that did not address specific interventions were not considered. The remaining 21 articles were categorized by domain and by type of intervention strategy.


All studies reviewed were carried out in sub-Saharan Africa. All outcomes are expressed as cost per child per year (in 2010 USD). Foster care estimates range from $614 to $1921. Educational support for primary school ranged from $30 to $75. Health interventions that would ensure child survival can be delivered for about $55.


More research is needed to improve planning and delivery of interventions for OVC. The paucity of cost and cost-effectiveness data reflects the limited number of effectiveness studies. Nevertheless, this systematic literature review shows evidence that suggests that in the area of housing, foster care appears to be more cost effective than institutional care (orphanages).

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