The marginal costs and benefits of converting malaria programmes from a control to an elimination goal are central to strategic decisions, but empirical evidence is scarce. We present a conceptual framework to assess the economics of elimination and analyse a central component of that framework - potential short-term to medium-term financial savings. After a review that showed a dearth of existing evidence, the net present value of elimination in five sites was calculated and compared with effective control. The probability that elimination would be cost-saving over 50 years ranged from 0 to 42, with only one site achieving cost-savings in the base case. These findings show that financial savings should not be a primary rationale for elimination, but that elimination might still be a worthy investment if total benefits are sufficient to outweigh marginal costs. Robust research into these elimination benefits is urgently needed.
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