Assessing the population health impact of market interventions to improve access to antiretroviral treatment
Despite extraordinary global progress in increasing coverage of antiretroviral treatment (ART), the majority of people needing ART currently are not receiving treatment. Both the number of people needing ART and the average ART price per patient-year are expected to increase in coming years, which will dramatically raise funding needs for ART. Several international organizations are using interventions in ART markets to decrease ART price or to improve ART quality, delivery and innovation, with the ultimate goal of improving population health. These organizations need to select those market interventions that are most likely to substantially affect population health outcomes (ex ante assessment) and to evaluate whether implemented interventions have improved health outcomes (ex post assessment).We develop a framework to structure ex ante and ex post assessment of the population health impact of market interventions, which is transmitted through effects in markets and health systems. Ex ante assessment should include evaluation of the safety and efficacy of the ART products whose markets will be affected by the intervention; theoretical consideration of the mechanisms through which the intervention will affect population health; and predictive modelling to estimate the potential population health impact of the intervention. For ex post assessment, analysts need to consider which outcomes to estimate empirically and which to model based on empirical findings and understanding of the economic and biological mechanisms along the causal pathway from market intervention to population health. We discuss methods for ex post assessment and analyse assessment issues (unintended intervention effects, interaction effects between different interventions, and assessment impartiality and cost). We offer seven recommendations for ex ante and ex post assessment of population health impact of market interventions.