Background: Punjab state is particularly reporting a rising burden of cancer. A ‘door to door cancer awareness and early detection campaign’ was therefore launched in the Punjab covering about 2.67 million population, wherein after initial training accredited social health activists (ASHAs) and other health staff conducted a survey for early detection of cancer cases based on a twelve point clinical algorithm.
Objective: To ascertain unit cost for undertaking a population-based cancer awareness and early detection campaign. Materials and
Methods: Data were collected using bottom-up costing methods. Full economic costs of implementing the campaign from the health system perspective were calculated. Options to meet the likely demand for project activities were further evaluated to examine their worth from the point of view of long-term sustainability.
Results: The campaign covered 97% of the state population. A total of 24,659 cases were suspected to have cancer and were referred to health facilities. At the state level, incidence and prevalence of cancer were found to be 90 and 216 per 100,000, respectively. Full economic cost of implementing the campaign in pilot district was USD 117,524. However, the financial cost was approximately USD 6,301. Start-up phase of campaign was more resource intensive (63% of total) than the implementation phase. The economic cost per person contacted and suspected by clinical algorithm was found to be USD 0.20 and USD 40 respectively. Cost per confirmed case under the campaign was 7,043 USD.
Conclusions: The campaign was able to screen a reasonably large population. High to high economic cost points towards the fact that the opportunity cost of campaign put a significant burden on health system and other programs. However, generating awareness and early detection strategy adopted in this campaign seems promising in light of fact that organized screening is not in place in India and in many developing countries.