Researchers at the Dodowa Health Research Center and the other centers affiliated with Ghana’s Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service have shared with us their findings and concerns about the costs of treating malaria and febrile illness in Ghana. We can see that despite efforts to reduce costs through such efforts as the Affordable Medicines Facility malaria (AMFm), households are burdened when malaria strikes. Alexander A. A. Nartey, Patricia Akweongo, Elizabeth Awini1, Maxwell Darlaba, Theresa Tawiah, Jonas Akpakli, Doris Sarpong, Christine Clerk, Martin Adjuik, Moses Aikins, Fred Binka and Margaret Gyapong explain in more detail below.
The burden of malaria seems to be reducing globally but sub-Saharan African countries continue to bear the greater burden of the disease considering the economic burden on the households. Malaria continues to be the number one cause of morbidity and mortality in Ghana. The household cost burden of malaria is both direct and indirect costs.
The study was a cross sectional cost-of-illness design. The study used self-reported fever as an indicator of malaria. The study household sample was drawn from the entire Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) databases of the Dangme West, Kintampo (North and South) and Kassena-Nankana (East and West) districts. All patients from such households that have a history of fever in the previous two weeks were interviewed on their care seeking, health providers used, treatment received and the related costs.
The average direct OPD cost of treating fevers was GH¢16.54 (US$11.25) and the average cost of self-treatment was 5 times less than seeking care at health facilities OPDs in Ghana. A household in Ghana was likely to pay GH¢31.43 (US$ 21.38) as direct cost per episode of fever treatment which was equivalent to 32.7% of monthly minimum income in Ghana.
Government of Ghana in its effort to keep the direct cost of treating fever relatively low through the provision of Health Insurance Scheme and the introduction of a subsidized AMFm drugs, the overall lost of productivity to the patient play a significant role especially when there are multiple fever cases within households in a year.