The cost of uncomplicated childhood fevers to Kenyan households: Implications for reaching international access targets

Center for International Health and Development, Boston University, 85 East Concord Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02118, USA.
BMC Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.26). 02/2006; 6(1):314. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-6-314
Source: PubMed


Fever is the clinical hallmark of malaria disease. The Roll Back Malaria (RBM) movement promotes prompt, effective treatment of childhood fevers as a key component to achieving its optimistic mortality reduction goals by 2010. A neglected concern is how communities will access these new medicines promptly and the costs to poor households when they are located in rural areas distant to health services.
We assemble data developed between 2001 and 2002 in Kenya to describe treatment choices made by rural households to treat a child's fever and the related costs to households. Using a cost-of-illness approach, we estimate the expected cost of a childhood fever to Kenyan households in 2002. We develop two scenarios to explore how expected costs to households would change if more children were treated at a health care facility with an effective antimalarial within 48 hours of fever onset.
30% of uncomplicated fevers were managed at home with modern medicines, 38% were taken to a health care facility (HCF), and 32% were managed at home without the use of modern medicines. Direct household cash expenditures were estimated at $0.44 per fever, while the total expected cost to households (cash and time) of an uncomplicated childhood fever is estimated to be $1.91. An estimated mean of 1.42 days of caretaker time devoted to each fever accounts for the majority of household costs of managing fevers. The aggregate cost to Kenyan households of managing uncomplicated childhood fevers was at least $96 million in 2002, equivalent to 1.00% of the Kenyan GDP. Fewer than 8% of all fevers were treated with an antimalarial drug within 24 hours of fever onset, while 17.5% were treated within 48 hours at a HCF. To achieve an increase from 17.5% to 33% of fevers treated with an antimalarial drug within 48 hours at a HCF (Scenario 1), children already being taken to a HCF would need to be taken earlier. Under this scenario, direct cash expenditures would not change, and total household costs would fall slightly to $1.86 because caretakers also save time with prompt treatment if the child has malaria.
The management of uncomplicated childhood fevers imposes substantial costs on Kenyan households. Achieving substantial improvements in the numbers of fevers treated within 48 hours at a HCF with an effective antimalarial drug (Scenario 1) will not impose additional costs on households. Achieving additional improvements in fevers treated promptly at a HCF (Scenario 2) will impose additional costs on some households roughly equal to average cash expenses for transportation to a HCF. Additional financing mechanisms that further reduce the costs of accessing care at a HCF and/or that make artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) accessible for home management need to be developed and evaluated as a top priority.

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Available from: Abdisalan Noor, Jul 28, 2014
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    • "Studies have generally found low availability of ACT and higher availability of monotherapies in both the public and private sector [7-9]. While ACT is typically free-of-charge or subsidized in the public and not-for-profit sector, in the private sector ACT is between ten and twenty times more expensive than non-artemisnin therapies, such as chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) [8,10-12]. Provider knowledge that ACT is the first-line treatment for malaria is also low, particularly in the private sector [13-16]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is the first-line malaria treatment throughout most of the malaria-endemic world. Data on ACT availability, price and market share are needed to provide a firm evidence base from which to assess the current situation concerning quality-assured ACT supply. This paper presents supply side data from ACTwatch outlet surveys in Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia. Between March 2009 and June 2010, nationally representative surveys of outlets providing anti-malarials to consumers were conducted. A census of all outlets with the potential to provide anti-malarials was conducted in clusters sampled randomly. 28,263 outlets were censused, 51,158 anti-malarials were audited, and 9,118 providers interviewed. The proportion of public health facilities with at least one first-line quality-assured ACT in stock ranged between 43% and 85%. Among private sector outlets stocking at least one anti-malarial, non-artemisinin therapies, such as chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine, were widely available (> 95% of outlets) as compared to first-line quality-assured ACT (< 25%). In the public/not-for-profit sector, first-line quality-assured ACT was available for free in all countries except Benin and the DRC (US$1.29 [Inter Quartile Range (IQR): $1.29-$1.29] and $0.52[IQR: $0.00-$1.29] per adult equivalent dose respectively). In the private sector, first-line quality-assured ACT was 5-24 times more expensive than non-artemisinin therapies. The exception was Madagascar where, due to national social marketing of subsidized ACT, the price of first-line quality-assured ACT ($0.14 [IQR: $0.10, $0.57]) was significantly lower than the most popular treatment (chloroquine, $0.36 [IQR: $0.36, $0.36]). Quality-assured ACT accounted for less than 25% of total anti-malarial volumes; private-sector quality-assured ACT volumes represented less than 6% of the total market share. Most anti-malarials were distributed through the private sector, but often comprised non-artemisinin therapies, and in the DRC and Nigeria, oral artemisinin monotherapies. Provider knowledge of the first-line treatment was significantly lower in the private sector than in the public/not-for-profit sector. These standardized, nationally representative results demonstrate the typically low availability, low market share and high prices of ACT, in the private sector where most anti-malarials are accessed, with some exceptions. The results confirm that there is substantial room to improve availability and affordability of ACT treatment in the surveyed countries. The data will also be useful for monitoring the impact of interventions such as the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria.
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    • "Where the cost of drugs is covered by formal health services, spending on medicines is a major part of the total healthcare budget. Unaffordable prices have been reported as the major barrier to accessing ACT in malaria-endemic countries [21,22]. Other things being equal, the retail prices of medicines are determined by interplay of demand and supply. "
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    ABSTRACT: Access to quality assured artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) has remained very low in most malaria endemic countries. A number of reasons, including unaffordable prices, have contributed to the low accessibility to these life-saving medicines. The Affordable Medicines Facility-Malaria (AMFm) is a mechanism to increase access to quality assured ACT. The AMFm will use price signals and a combination of public and private sector channels to achieve multiple public health objectives: replacing older and increasingly ineffective anti-malarial medicines, such as chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine with ACT, displacing oral artemisinin monotherapies from the market, and prolonging the lifespan of ACT by reducing the likelihood of resistance to artemisinin. Access to medicines frameworks paint a broad picture of dimensions of access to medicines and juxtapose components that enhance or hinder access to medicines. Access requires various activities--funding, institutions, interventions, and thinking--from public and private actors at global, national, and local levels. This paper examines, within access to medicines frameworks, the role of the AMFm across and within each dimension and discusses how the AMFm can help to solve access bottlenecks.
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    • "However, since the gross wage is not a meaningful term in a subsistence economy like rural Kenya, none of these approaches are directly applicable. We used instead an estimate by Larson et al in a study on the cost of uncomplicated childhood fevers to Kenya households [19]. Based on a review of existing literature on poverty, adult daily income and wages in Kenya, Larson et al. concluded that US$ 1.00 per day provides a reasonable estimate of the average monetary value of caretaker time. "
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