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Cost-effectiveness analysis of establishing a distance-education programme for health personnel in Swaziland

Joses M Kirigia
Luis G Sambo
Margaret Phiri
Gladys Matsembula
Magda Awases


There is a growing conviction among policy-makers that the availability of adequate numbers of well-trained and motivated human resources is a key determinant of health system's capacity to achieve their health, responsiveness and fairness-improving goals. The objective of this study was to estimate the cost, effectiveness and incremental cost effectiveness ratios of various distance-education strategies for the health sector in Swaziland; and recommend the most cost-effective option. The distance-education strategies evaluated included: Mobile library services (MLS); micro-resources centers WITHOUT video conferencing in five health centers and four regional hospitals (MRC-VC); micro resources centers WITH video conferencing in five health centers and four regional hospitals (MRC+VC); centralized resource center WITHOUT video conferencing (CRC-VC); centralized resource center WITH video conferencing (CRC+VC); and status quo (SQ). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for MLS was Emalangeni (E) 41,846; MRC-VC was E42,696; MRC+VC was E45,569; CRC-VC was E43,578; CRC+VC was E40,827; the latter being the most cost-effective distance-education strategy. According to policy-makers, this study served to clarify the various distance-education strategies, their costs and their benefits/effectiveness. There is a need for developing in Africa a culture of basing policy and management decisions of such kind on systematic analyses. Of course, economic evaluation will, at most, be a guide to policy- and decision- making, and thus, the onus of decision – making will always be on policy-makers and health-care managers.
[Afr. J. Health Sci. 2002; 9: 3-15]

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