Objective: Recent meta-analyses demonstrate that small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements (SQ-LNS) for young children significantly reduce child mortality, stunting, wasting, anemia and adverse developmental outcomes. Cost considerations should inform policy decisions. We developed a modeling framework to estimate the cost and cost-effectiveness of SQ-LNS and apply the framework in the context of rural Uganda.
Design: We adapted costs from a costing study of micronutrient powder (MNP) in Uganda, and based effectiveness estimates on recent meta-analyses and Uganda-specific estimates of baseline mortality and the prevalence of stunting, wasting, anemia, and developmental disability.
Setting: Rural Uganda.
Results: Providing SQ-LNS daily to all children in rural Uganda (>1 million) for 12 months (from 6-18 months of age) via the existing Village Health Team system would cost ∼$52 per child (2020 US dollars), or ∼$58.7 million annually. Annually, SQ-LNS could avert an average of >242,000 disability adjusted life years (DALYs) as a result of preventing 3,689 deaths, >160,000 cases of moderate or severe anemia, and ∼6,000 cases of developmental disability. The estimated cost per DALY averted is $242, which is considered “very cost effective” relative to the Uganda per capita GDP of $822.
Conclusions: In this context, SQ-LNS may be more cost-effective than other options such as MNP or the provision of complementary food, although the total cost for a program including all age-eligible children would be high. Strategies to reduce costs, such as targeting to the most vulnerable populations and the elimination of taxes on SQ-LNS, may enhance financial feasibility.