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Hum Resour Health. 2017 Feb 28;15(1):19. doi: 10.1186/s12960-017-0192-5.

A systematic review of economic evaluations of CHW interventions aimed at improving child health outcomes.

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Centre for Health Systems and Services Revision, Division of Community Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Francie van Zijl Rylaan/Drive, Tygerberg, 7505, South Africa.
PRICELESS SA, MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.


Evidence of the cost-effectiveness of community health worker interventions is pertinent for decision-makers and programme planners who are turning to community services in order to strengthen health systems in the context of the momentum generated by strategies to support universal health care, the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal agenda.We conducted a systematic review of published economic evaluation studies of community health worker interventions aimed at improving child health outcomes. Four public health and economic evaluation databases were searched for studies that met the inclusion criteria: National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED), Cochrane, Paediatric Economic Evaluation Database (PEED), and PubMed. The search strategy was tailored to each database.The 19 studies that met the inclusion criteria were conducted in either high income countries (HIC), low- income countries (LIC) and/or middle-income countries (MIC). The economic evaluations covered a wide range of interventions. Studies were grouped together by intended outcome or objective of each study. The data varied in quality. We found evidence of cost-effectiveness of community health worker (CHW) interventions in reducing malaria and asthma, decreasing mortality of neonates and children, improving maternal health, increasing exclusive breastfeeding and improving malnutrition, and positively impacting physical health and psychomotor development amongst children.Studies measured varied outcomes, due to the heterogeneous nature of studies included; a meta-analysis was not conducted. Outcomes included disease- or condition -specific outcomes, morbidity, mortality, and generic measures (e.g. disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)). Nonetheless, all 19 interventions were found to be either cost-effective or highly cost-effective at a threshold specific to their respective countries.There is a growing body of economic evaluation literature on cost-effectiveness of CHW interventions. However, this is largely for small scale and vertical programmes. There is a need for economic evaluations of larger and integrated CHW programmes in order to achieve the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal agenda so that appropriate resources can be allocated to this subset of human resources for health. This is the first systematic review to assess the cost-effectiveness of community health workers in delivering child health interventions.


Child health; Community health worker; Cost-effectiveness; Economic evaluations

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