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Open Access Research article

Household costs of illness during different phases of tuberculosis treatment in Central Asia: a patient survey in Tajikistan

Raffael Ayé1*, Kaspar Wyss1, Hanifa Abdualimova2 and Sadullo Saidaliev3

Author Affiliations

1 Swiss Tropical Institute, Swiss Centre for International Health, Socinstr. 57, 4002 Basel, Switzerland

2 Project Sino, Rudaki Prospekt Proyezd 5, Dom 1, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

3 Republican Centre for Tuberculosis Control, Bukhoro street 53, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:18  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-18

Published: 18 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Illness-related costs incurred by patients constitute a severe economic burden for households especially in low-income countries. High household costs of illness lead to impoverishment; they impair affordability and equitable access to health care and consequently hamper tuberculosis (TB) control. So far, no study has investigated patient costs of TB in the former Soviet Union.

Methods

All adult new pulmonary TB cases enrolled into the DOTS program in 12 study districts during the study period were enrolled. Medical and non-medical expenditure as well as loss of income were quantified in two interviews covering separate time periods. Costs of different items were summed up to calculate total costs. For missing values, multiple imputation was applied.

Results

A cohort of 204 patients under DOTS, 114 men and 90 women, participated in the questionnaire survey. Total illness costs of a TB episode averaged $1053 (c. $4900 purchasing power parity, PPP), of which $292, $338 and $422 were encountered before the start of treatment, during intensive phase and in continuation phase, respectively. Costs per month were highest before the start of treatment ($145) and during intensive phase ($153) and lower during continuation phase ($95). These differences were highly significant (paired t-test, p < 0.0005 for both comparisons).

Conclusions

The illness-related costs of an episode of TB exceed the per capita GDP of $1600 PPP about two-and-a-half times. Hence, these costs are catastrophic for concerned households and suggest a high risk for impoverishment. Costs are not equally spread over time, but peak in early stages of treatment, exacerbating the problem of affordability. Mitigation strategies are needed in order to control TB in Tajikistan and may include social support to the patients as well as changes in the management of TB cases. These mitigation strategies should be timed early in treatment when the cost burden is highest.