Examining the cost-effectiveness of personal protective equipment for formal healthcare workers in Kenya during the COVID-19 pandemic

Kazungu J, Munge K, Werner K, Risko N, Vecino-Ortiz AI, Were V
BMC Health Serv Res. 2021;21

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BACKGROUND: Healthcare workers are at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection during care encounters compared to the general population. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have been shown to protect COVID-19 among healthcare workers, however, Kenya has faced PPE shortages that can adequately protect all healthcare workers. We, therefore, examined the health and economic consequences of investing in PPE for healthcare workers in Kenya. METHODS: We conducted a cost-effectiveness and return on investment (ROI) analysis using a decision-analytic model following the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS) guidelines. We examined two outcomes: 1) the incremental cost per healthcare worker death averted, and 2) the incremental cost per healthcare worker COVID-19 case averted. We performed a multivariate sensitivity analysis using 10,000 Monte Carlo simulations. RESULTS: Kenya would need to invest $3.12 million (95% CI: 2.65-3.59) to adequately protect healthcare workers against COVID-19. This investment would avert 416 (IQR: 330-517) and 30,041 (IQR: 7243 - 102,480) healthcare worker deaths and COVID-19 cases respectively. Additionally, such an investment would result in a healthcare system ROI of $170.64 million (IQR: 138-209) - equivalent to an 11.04 times return. CONCLUSION: Despite other nationwide COVID-19 prevention measures such as social distancing, over 70% of healthcare workers will still be infected if the availability of PPE remains scarce. As part of the COVID-19 response strategy, the government should consider adequate investment in PPE for all healthcare workers in the country as it provides a large return on investment and it is value for money.