The economic benefits resulting from the first 8 years of the global programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (2000–2007)
Background - Between 2000–2007, the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) delivered more than 1.9 billion treatments to nearly 600 million individuals via annual mass drug administration (MDA) of anti-filarial drugs (albendazole, ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine) to all at-risk for 4–6 years. Quantifying the resulting economic benefits of this significant achievement is important not only to justify the resources invested in the GPELF but also to more fully understand the Programme's overall impact on some of the poorest endemic populations. Methodology - To calculate the economic benefits, the number of clinical manifestations averted was first quantified and the savings associated with this disease prevention then analyzed in the context of direct treatment costs, indirect costs of lost-labor, and costs to the health system to care for affected individuals. Multiple data sources were reviewed, including published literature and databases from the World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, and International Labour Organization. Principal Findings - An estimated US$21.8 billion of direct economic benefits will be gained over the lifetime of 31.4 million individuals treated during the first 8 years of the GPELF. Of this total, over US$2.3 billion is realized by the protection of nearly 3 million newborns and other individuals from acquiring lymphatic filariasis as a result of their being born into areas freed of LF transmission. Similarly, more than 28 million individuals already infected with LF benefit from GPELF's halting the progression of their disease, which results in an associated lifetime economic benefit of approximately US$19.5 billion. In addition to these economic benefits to at-risk individuals, decreased patient services associated with reduced LF morbidity saves the health systems of endemic countries approximately US$2.2 billion. Conclusions/Significance - MDA for LF offers significant economic benefits. Moreover, with favorable program implementation costs (largely a result of the sustained commitments of donated drugs from the pharmaceutical industry) it is clear that the economic rate of return of the GPELF is extremely high and that this Programme continues to prove itself an excellent investment in global health.