Incremental cost of conducting population-based prevalence surveys for a neglected tropical disease: the example of trachoma in 8 national programs.
BACKGROUND: Trachoma prevalence surveys provide the evidence base for district and community-wide implementation of the SAFE strategy, and are used to evaluate the impact of trachoma control interventions. An economic analysis was performed to estimate the cost of trachoma prevalence surveys conducted between 2006 and 2010 from 8 national trachoma control programs in Africa.
METHODOLOGY AND FINDINGS: Data were collected retrospectively from reports for 165 districts surveyed for trachoma prevalence using a cluster random sampling methodology in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Southern Sudan and The Gambia. The median cost per district survey was $4,784 (inter-quartile range [IQR] = $3,508-$6,650) while the median cost per cluster was $311 (IQR = $119-$393). Analysis by cost categories (personnel, transportation, supplies and other) and cost activity (training, field work, supervision and data entry) revealed that the main cost drivers were personnel and transportation during field work.
CONCLUSION: Population-based cluster random surveys are used to provide the evidence base to set objectives and determine when elimination targets have been reached for several neglected tropical diseases, including trachoma. The cost of conducting epidemiologically rigorous prevalence surveys should not be a barrier to program implementation or evaluation.