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Trop Med Parasitol. 1991 Sep;42(3):219-23.

Estimating the direct and indirect economic costs of malaria in a rural district of Burkina Faso.

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  • 1Department of Population Sciences and International Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.


Comprehensive estimates of the direct economic costs of malaria should include not only the costs of care at established health facilities, but also other expenditures, such as travel and out-of-pocket costs of drugs. They should include all episodes of illness, whether or not the patient attended a health facility. Also, the indirect economic costs, which are based on the value of time lost due to illness, consider seasonal variations in the marginal product of labor according to the agricultural season. A 1985 representative survey of 626 households in Solenzo medical district, Burkina Faso, provided household data on health service utilization, expenditures, and agricultural production with which to implement these refinements. Numbers of malaria deaths and cases were estimated by adjusting survey totals according to monthly patterns of reported malaria deaths. The marginal product of labor was valued according to typical activities in each of three agricultural seasons: brewing millet beer during the maintenance period (January-February), growing cotton during the cash crop season (March-April), and growing millet and sorghum during the food crop season (May-December). The resulting values were $0.28, $1.09, and $0.55 per day, respectively. Cost per case averaged $5.96 and cost per capita $1.15. Indirect cost due to mortality was the largest cost component ($0.79 per capita), followed by direct costs incurred by the user (e.g. transportation costs and drug purchases, $0.22 per capita). Direct costs paid by providers were small, only $0.04 per capita. A household survey provides the necessary data for more comprehensive population-based estimates of costs of malaria.

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