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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of deaths globally, with greatest premature mortality in the low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Many of these countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, have significant budget constraints. The need for current evidence on which interventions offer good value for money to stem this CVD epidemic motivates this study.
In this systematic review, we included studies reporting full economic evaluations of individual and population-based interventions (pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic), for primary and secondary prevention of CVD among adults in LMIC. Several medical (PubMed, EMBASE, SCOPUS, Web of Science) and economic (EconLit, NHS EED) databases and grey literature were searched. Screening of studies and data extraction was done independently by two reviewers. Drummond’s checklist and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence quality rating scale were used in the quality appraisal for all studies used to inform this evidence synthesis.
From a pool of 4059 records, 94 full texts were read and 50 studies, which met our inclusion criteria, were retained for our narrative synthesis. Most of the studies were from middle-income countries and predominantly of high quality. The majority were modelled evaluations, and there was significant heterogeneity in methods. Primary prevention studies dominated secondary prevention. Most of the economic evaluations were performed for pharmacological interventions focusing on blood pressure, cholesterol lowering and antiplatelet aggregants. The greatest majority were cost-effective. Compared to individual-based interventions, population-based interventions were few and mostly targeted reduction in sodium intake and tobacco control strategies. These were very cost-effective with many being cost-saving.
This evidence synthesis provides a contemporary update on interventions that offer good value for money in LMICs. Population-based interventions especially those targeting reduction in salt intake and tobacco control are very cost-effective in LMICs with potential to generate economic gains that can be reinvested to improve health and/or other sectors. While this evidence is relevant for policy across these regions, decision makers should additionally take into account other multi-sectoral perspectives, including considerations in budget impact, fairness, affordability and implementation while setting priorities for resource allocation.