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

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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.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMJ Open