Cost-effectiveness of an ambulance-based referral system for emergency obstetrical and neonatal care in rural Ethiopia

Sandro Accorsi, Edgardo Somigliana, Hagos Solomon, Tsegaye Ademe, Jofrey Woldegebriel, Biadgo Almaz, Mohammed Zemedu, Fabio Manenti, Akalu Tibebe, Pasquale Farese, Aberra Seifu, Serena Menozzi, Giovanni Putoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To estimate the cost-effectiveness of an ambulance-based referral system an dedicated to emergency obstetrics and neonatal care (EmONC) in remote sub-Saharan settings. Methods: In this prospective study performed in Oromiya Region (Ethiopia), all obstetrical cases referred to the hospital with the ambulance were consecutively evaluated during a three-months period. The health professionals who managed the referred cases were requested to identify those that could be considered as undoubtedly effective. Pre and post-referral costs included those required to run the ambulance service and the additional costs necessary for the assistance in the hospital. Local life expectancy tables were used to calculate the number of year saved. Results: A total of 111 ambulance referrals were recorded. The ambulance was undoubtedly effective for 9 women and 4 newborns, corresponding to 336 years saved. The total cost of the intervention was 8299 US dollars. The cost per year life saved was 24.7 US dollars which is below the benchmarks of 150 and 30 US dollars that define attractive and very attractive interventions. Sensitivity analyses on the rate of effective referrals, on the costs of the ambulance and on the discount rate confirmed the robustness of the result. Conclusions: An ambulance-based referral system for EmONC in remote sub-Saharan areas appears highly cost-effective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number220
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 12 2017


  • Ambulance
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • EmONC
  • Remote setting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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