Economic evaluation of public-private mix for tuberculosis care and control, India. Part I. Socio-economic profile and costs among tuberculosis patients

Andrea Pantoja, K Floyd, K P Unnikrishnan, R Jitendra, M R Padma, S S Lal, M Uplekar, L S Chauhan, P Kumar, S Sahu, F Wares, K Lönnroth
International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 2009, 13 (6): 698-704

SETTING: Bangalore City, India.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the socio-economic profile, health-seeking behaviour and costs related to tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment among patients treated under the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP).

DESIGN: All 1106 new TB patients registered for treatment under the RNTCP in the second quarter of 2005 participated. Interviews at the beginning and at the end of treatment were conducted. A convenience sample of 32 patients treated outside the RNTCP also participated.

RESULTS: Among the TB patients, respectively 50% and 39% were from low and middle standard of living (SL) households, and 77% were from households with a per capita income of less than US$1 per day. The first health contact was with a private practitioner in the case of >70% of patients. Mean patient delay was low, at 21 days, but the mean health system delay was 52 days. The average cost incurred by patients before treatment in the RNTCP was US$145, and during treatment it was US$21. Costs as a proportion of annual household income per capita were 53% for people from low SL households and 41% for those from other households. Costs during treatment faced by patients treated outside the RNTCP averaged US$127.

CONCLUSION: Patients treated under the RNTCP through a public-private mix approach were predominantly poor. Many of them experienced considerable health expenditures before starting treatment. Additional efforts are required to reduce the delays and the number of health care providers consulted, and to ensure that patients are shifted to subsidised treatment within the RNTCP.

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