Cost-effectiveness of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for the prevention of malaria-associated low birth weight.

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  • 1 Department of International Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.

Prevention of placental malaria through administration of antimalarial medications to pregnant women in disease-endemic areas decreases the risk of delivery of low birth weight (LBW) infants. In areas of high Plasmodium falciparum transmission, two intermittent presumptive treatment doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy are effective in decreasing the prevalence of placental malaria in human immunodeficiency virus (HlV)-negative women, while HIV-positive women may require a monthly SP regimen to reduce their prevalence of placental parasitemia. A decision-analysis model was used to compare the cost-effectiveness of three different presumptive SP treatment regimens with febrile case management with SP in terms of incremental cost per case LBW prevented. Factors considered included HIV seroprevalence, placental malaria prevalence, LBW incidence, the cost of SP, medical care for LBW infants, and HIV testing. For a hypothetical cohort of 10,000 pregnant women, the monthly SP regimen would always be the most effective strategy for reducing LBW associated with malaria. The two-dose SP and monthly SP regimens would prevent 172 and 229 cases of LBW, respectively, compared with the case management approach. At HIV seroprevalence rates greater than 10%, the monthly SP regimen is the least expensive strategy. At HIV seroprevalence rates less than 10%, the two-dose SP regimen would be the less expensive option. When only antenatal clinic costs are considered, the two-dose and monthly SP strategies cost US $11 and $14, respectively, well within the range considered cost effective. Presumptive treatment regimens to prevent LBW associated with malaria and the subsequent increased risk of mortality during the first year of life are effective and cost effective strategies in areas with both elevated HIV prevalence and malaria transmission rates.