Solar-powered oxygen delivery cost-effective in young children with hypoxemia

Huang reports being an inventor on a provisional patent for solar-powered oxygen delivery. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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Solar-powered oxygen delivery was a cost-effective intervention for treating hypoxemia in young children in low- and middle-income countries, according to findings published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers conducted an economic evaluation study to determine the cost-effectiveness of solar-powered oxygen delivery in children aged younger than 5 years with severe pneumonia who required supplemental oxygen. The study was conducted from January 2020 to February 2021. Researchers determined plausible ranges for solar-powered oxygen delivery cost and costs of implementation at a single health facility in low- and middle-income countries.

Data were derived from Huang Y, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.14686.

“This idea originated while working in the pediatric ward in Jinja, Uganda. Children with pneumonia dependent on oxygen could die when the power went out,” Michael Hawkes, MD, assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, told Healio. “We needed a solution that could run off-grid to provide reliable oxygen in remote and rural settings.”

Researchers estimated that the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of solar-powered oxygen delivery was $20 (95% CI, 2.83-206) per disability-adjusted life-year saved compared with no oxygen. These costs were quantified to $26 per patient treated and $542 per life saved with this method of oxygen delivery.

The researchers also reported solar-powered oxygen delivered was cost-effective compared with grid-powered concentrators (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio $140 per disability-adjusted life-year saved) and cost-saving relative to fuel generator-powered concentrators (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio $7,120 per disability-adjusted life-year saved).

The researchers estimated that a hospital with 431 admissions for pneumonia per year would be able to treat 869 patients with hypoxemia during 10 years with solar-powered oxygen delivery.

“Solar-powered oxygen delivery is a cost-effective solution to the gap in oxygen availability in low-resource settings,” Hawkes said.

The researchers concluded that these results provide economic support to expand solar-powered oxygen delivery in this setting and further assess its efficacy and mortality benefits.

“We are currently rolling out solar-powered oxygen delivery at 20 hospitals across Uganda,” Hawkes said. “We aim to demonstrate the mortality benefit of solar oxygen, proving that it is lifesaving.”

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Michael Hawkes, MD, can be reached at