Using economic evaluations to make decisions about the content of newborn screening programs in LMIC

A new article in the Journal of Inborn Errors of Metabolism and Screening uses the national newborn screening (NBS) program in Vietnam as an example of the potential benefits and challenges of using economic evaluations to make decisions about the content of such programs.
Compared to high-income countries, the introduction of NBS programs in low and middle-income countries (LMIC) has been slow due to resource constraints and competition with other public health priorities. As these countries begin to develop and implement NBS at an increasing rate, economic evaluations can provide support for decision-making on which conditions to include by providing insight on the impact, scalability, and sustainability of different options. However, they are not a perfect solution. In the case of rare diseases in particular, there is often a lack of reliable cost-effectiveness data, which limits the utility of economic evaluations for decision-making purposes.
Using the example of Vietnam, overall the article calls for the introduction and/or strengthening of health technology assessment (HTA) processes in LMIC. While economic evaluations are not a magical silver bullet, they nonetheless present a useful tool which can be used to help support decision-makers in designing new NBS programs.