Assessing the potential cost-effectiveness of centralised versus point-of-care testing for hepatitis C virus in Pakistan: A model-based comparison

Joseph B. Babigumira, James K. Karichu, Samantha Clark, Mindy M. Cheng, Louis P. Garrison, Maciej B. Maniecki, Saeed S. Hamid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Pakistan has a hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection prevalence of 6%-9% and aims to achieve World Health Organisation (WHO) targets for elimination of HCV by the year 2030. We aim to evaluate the potential cost-effectiveness of a reference laboratory-based (centralised laboratory testing; CEN) confirmatory testing approach versus a molecular near-patient point-of-care (POC) confirmatory approach to screen the general population for HCV in Pakistan. Study design We used a decision tree-analytic model from a governmental (formal healthcare sector) perspective. Study setting Individuals were assumed to be initially screened with an anti-HCV test at home, followed by POC nucleic acid test (NAT) at nearby district hospitals or followed by NAT at centralised laboratories. Participants We included the general testing population for chronic HCV in Pakistan. Intervention Screening with an anti-HCV antibody test (Anti-HCV) followed by either POC NAT (Anti-HCV-POC), or reference laboratory NAT (Anti-HCV-CEN), was compared, using data from published literature and the Pakistan Ministry of Health. Measures Outcome measures included: number of HCV infections identified per year, percentage of individuals correctly classified, total costs, average costs per individual tested, and cost-effectiveness (assessed as cost per additional HCV infection identified). Sensitivity analysis was also performed. Results At a national level (25 million annual screening tests), the Anti-HCV-CEN strategy would identify 142 406 more HCV infections in 1 year and increase correct classification of individuals by 0.57% compared with the Anti-HCV-POC strategy. The total annual cost of HCV testing was reduced using the Anti-HCV-CEN strategy by US$7.68 million (US$0.31/person). Thus, incrementally, the Anti-HCV-CEN strategy costs less and identifies more HCV infections than Anti-HCV-POC. The incremental difference in HCV infections identified was most sensitive to the probability of loss to follow-up (for POC confirmatory NAT). Conclusions Anti-HCV-CEN would provide the best value for money when scaling up HCV testing in Pakistan.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere066770
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2023


  • health economics
  • hepatology
  • public health
  • public health


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