To investigate the economic impact of introducing targeted screening and laser photocoagulation treatment for sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy and macular edema in a setting with no previous screening or laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy in sub-Saharan Africa.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
A cohort Markov model was built to compare combined targeted screening and laser treatment for patients with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy and macular edema against no intervention. Primary outcomes were incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained and per disability-adjusted life year (DALY) averted. Primary data were collected on 357 participants from the Malawi Diabetic Retinopathy Study, a prospective, observational cohort study. Multiple scenarios were explored and a probabilistic sensitivity analysis was performed.
In the base case (age: 50 years, service utilization rate: 80%), the cost of the intervention and the years of severe visual impairment averted per patient screened were $209 and 2.2 years respectively. Applying the World Health Organization threshold of cost-effectiveness for Malawi ($679), the base case was cost-effective when QALYs were used ($400 per QALY gained) but not when DALYs were used ($766 per DALY averted). The intervention was more cost-effective when it targeted younger patients (age: 30 years) and less cost-effective when the utilization rate was lowered to 50%.
Annual photographic screening of diabetic patients attending medical diabetes clinics in Malawi, with the provision of laser treatment for those with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy and macular edema, appears to be cost-effective in terms of QALYs gained, in our base case scenario. Cost-effectiveness improves if services are utilized more intensively and extended to younger patients.