The economic costs of malaria in children in Ghana, Tanzania, and Kenya

Children under five years of age are most severely affected by malaria, with almost one in five child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa occurring due to malaria, causing a substantial financial burden. In a recent article published in Malaria Journal, the economic costs of malaria in children were evaluated in Ghana, Tanzania, and Kenya, aiming to provide data that will assist policymakers when designing and planning future intervention strategies.

Ghana, Tanzania, and Kenya were strategically selected for study as they each present unique malaria situations; Ghana with high malaria endemicity, Tanzania with moderate malaria endemicity, and Kenya with relatively low malaria endemicity. The varying types of costs associated with malaria were taken into account and broken into three main categories for evaluation: (1) the cost of treatment per malaria episode by severity and presence of co-morbidities and clinical complications, (2) the expected treatment cost per episode per child, and (3) the annual economic costs of malaria, including both prevention and treatment costs.

To estimate costs, models were developed for each country, and financial data were collected from a variety of sources, including health facilities at varying levels of care, interviews with healthcare workers, recent reports, local market prices and payment methods, and more.

Findings from the study include:

Cost per episode of malaria, based on severity:

  • Ghana: US$ 7.99–$229.24
  • Tanzania: US$ 5.2–$137.74
  • Kenya: US$ 11.24–$287.81

Health system costs per malaria episode per child:

  • Ghana: US$ 2.89–$123
  • Tanzania: US$ 1.75–$48
  • Kenya: US$ 2.77–$57

The total annual cost of malaria, including household costs and health system treatment costs, excluding costs associated with productivity loss due to death:

  • Ghana: US$ 37.8 million
  • Tanzania: US$ 131.9 million
  • Kenya: US$ 109.0 million

The study also includes data on costs incurred by households, including indirect costs, and the cost of productivity loss due to malaria illness and deaths. As the article’s analysis points out, there is still room for further study on malaria’s economic burden, but the findings provide useful baseline information that will be valuable in the design of future scale-up measures.

Presenting such a great burden on children and their families, and with attainable malaria treatment and prevention measures, there is great incentive to scale-up efforts to end under-five child suffering and deaths due to malaria.

To read the full findings, download the report here.

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