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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011 Oct;5(10):e1362. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001362. Epub 2011 Oct 11.

The cost of antibiotic mass drug administration for trachoma control in a remote area of South Sudan.

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  • 1Malaria Consortium-Africa Regional Office, Kampala, Uganda.



Mass drug administration (MDA) of antibiotics is a key component of the so-called "SAFE" strategy for trachoma control, while MDA of anthelminthics provides the cornerstone for control of a number of other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Simultaneous delivery of two or more of these drugs, renowned as "integrated NTD control," is being promoted to reduce costs and expand intervention coverage. A cost analysis was conducted alongside an MDA campaign in a remote trachoma endemic area, to inform budgeting for NTD control in South Sudan.


A first round of antibiotic MDA was conducted in the highly trachoma endemic county of Mayom, Unity state, from June to August 2010. A core team of seven staff delivered the intervention, including recruitment and training of 44 supervisors and 542 community drug distributors. Using an ingredients approach, financial and economic costs were captured from the provider perspective in a detailed costing database. Overall, 123,760 individuals were treated for trachoma, resulting in an estimated treatment coverage of 94%. The economic cost per person treated was USD 1.53, excluding the cost of the antibiotic azithromycin. Ninety four per cent of the delivery costs were recurrent costs, with personnel and travel/transport costs taking up the largest share.


In a remote setting and for the initial round, MDA of antibiotics was considerably more expensive than USD 0.5 per person treated, an estimate frequently quoted to advocate for integrated NTD control. Drug delivery costs in South Sudan are unlikely to decrease substantially during subsequent MDA rounds, as the major cost drivers were recurrent costs. MDA campaigns for delivery of one or more drugs in South Sudan should thus be budgeted at around USD 1.5 per person treated, at least until further costing data for delivery of other NTD drugs, singly or in combination, are available.

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