Cost-effectiveness of a direct to beneficiary mobile communication programme in improving reproductive and child health outcomes in India

Amnesty Elizabeth Lefevre, Jai Mendiratta, Youngji Jo, Sara Chamberlain, Osama Ummer, Molly Miller, Kerry Scott, Neha Shah, Arpita Chakraborty, Anna Godfrey, Priyanka Dutt, Diwakar Mohan

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Introduction Kilkari is the largest maternal messaging programme of its kind globally. Between its initiation in 2012 in Bihar and its transition to the government in 2019, Kilkari was scaled to 13 states across India and reached over 10 million new and expectant mothers and their families. This study aims to determine the cost-effectiveness of exposure to Kilkari as compared with no exposure across 13 states in India. Methods The study was conducted from a programme perspective using an analytic time horizon aligned with national scale-up efforts from December 2014 to April 2019. Economic costs were derived from the financial records of implementing partners. Data on incremental changes in the practice of reproductive maternal newborn and child health (RMNCH) outcomes were drawn from an individually randomised controlled trial in Madhya Pradesh and inputted into the Lives Saved Tool to yield estimates of maternal and child lives saved. One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were carried out to assess uncertainty. Results Inflation adjusted programme costs were US$8.4 million for the period of December 2014-April 2019, corresponding to an average cost of US$264 298 per year of implementation in each state. An estimated 13 842 lives were saved across 13 states, 96% among children and 4% among mothers. The cost per life saved ranged by year of implementation and with the addition of new states from US$392 ($385-$393) to US$953 ($889-$1092). Key drivers included call costs and incremental changes in coverage for key RMNCH practices. Conclusion Kilkari is highly cost-effective using a threshold of India's national gross domestic product of US$1998. Study findings provide important evidence on the cost-effectiveness of a national maternal messaging programme in India. Trial registration NCT03576157.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere009553
JournalBMJ Global Health
StatePublished - Mar 23 2023


  • Child health
  • Health economics
  • Maternal health
  • Prevention strategies
  • Randomised control trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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