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Food Nutr Bull. 2013 Jun;34(2):199-214.

Comparison of the estimated cost-effectiveness of preventive and therapeutic zinc supplementation strategies for reducing child morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Department of Nutrition, Program in International and Community Nutrition, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.



Zinc supplementation of young children in lower-income countries reduces morbidity from diarrhea and pneumonia and all-cause mortality, but the most cost-effective approach for distributing zinc supplements is unknown.


To examine the potential impact of four possible strategies for delivering zinc supplements on disease prevention and deaths averted among children 6 to 59 months of age in sub-Saharan Africa.


We analyzed different zinc supplementation strategies to assess their likely impact on morbidity and mortality of preschool children in sub-Saharan Africa and to estimate their possible costs.


Preventive zinc supplementation reduces diarrhea incidence by 27% among children 12 to 59 months of age, pneumonia incidence by 21% among children 6 to 59 months of age, and all-cause mortality by 18% among children 12 to 59 months of age. The likely average total program costs of zinc supplementation programs were estimated from the outlays of existing service delivery platforms, such as child health days, community-based nutrition programs, and clinic-based treatment of diarrhea, assuming different levels of coverage and target age ranges of children.


We found that the average total costs per life saved ranged from approximately US$462 to US$3,111, and the most cost-effective interventions were weekly or intermittent preventive zinc supplementation, because of the possibility of high coverage and fewer supplements required. Empirical data from zinc supplementation programs will be needed to confirm these estimates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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