The Baby Basket initiative was developed by Apunipima Cape York Health Council (ACYHC) to address poor maternal and child health (MCH) in Cape York, the northernmost region of Queensland. While positive outcomes for Indigenous MCH programs are reported in the literature, few studies have a strong evidence base or employ a sound methodological approach to evaluation. The aim of this cost study was to identify the resources required to deliver the baby basket program in the remote communities of Cape York and to report whether the current program represents an effective use of scarce resources. It represents an initial step in the full economic evaluation of the baby basket program.
Method: The cost study was conducted from the perspective of the health providers and reflects the direct resources required to deliver the baby basket program to 170 women across 11 communities represented by ACYHC. A flow diagram informed by interviews with ACYHC staff, administrative documents and survey feedback was used to map the program pathway and measure resource use. Monetary values, in 2013 Australian dollars, were applied to the resources used to deliver the baby basket program for one year.
Results: The total cost of delivering the baby basket progam to 170 participants in Cape York was $148,642 or approximately, $874 per participant. The analysis allowed for the cost of providing the Baby Baskets to remote locations and the time for health workers to engage with women and thereby encourage a relationship with the health service. Routinely collected data showed improved engagement between expectant women and the health service during the life of the program.
Conclusion: The baby basket program cost study identifies the resources required to deliver this program in remote communities of Cape York and provides a framework that will support prospective data collection of more specific outcome data, for future cost-effectiveness analyses and cost-benefit analyses. An investment of $874 per baby basket program participant was associated with improved engagement with the health service, an important factor in maternal and child health.