A study by researchers from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore, and Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston — published in the current issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research — has estimated that every hospitalisation due to rotavirus infection, the commonest cause of childhood diarrhoea, costs a family an average of Rs 2,956 in treatment expenditure and man-days lost.
As per a 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, rotavirus annually causes an estimated 1,22,000-1,53,000 deaths and 4,57,000-8,84,000 hospitalisations. Thus, as per findings of IJMR study, the infection could annually cost over Rs 250 crore, exclusive of expenses of outpatient treatment. The research advocates a universal rotavirus vaccination programme and need for local manufacturers. ICMR is in the final stages of rotavirus vaccine trial, started two years ago.
At $ 53.75, the average expenditure in India is at par with the range of cost estimates for diarrhoeal hospitalisations available for developing countries like Vietnam ($ 36), Ghana ($ 65.14-133.86).
“To understand the scale of an infectious disease problem, it is very important to understand the economic burden it creates. This is the first of a series of studies to assess how much common diseases cost...,” said Dr Shobha Broor, Professor of microbiology, AIIMS, and one of the authors of study.
A total of 211 patients from eight hospitals in Delhi, Vellore, Kolkata and Pune were enrolled. The average cost of treatment in a government setup was Rs 233 while that in a private hospital was Rs 6,071. Of the vaccines available, the two commonest cost between Rs 2,200 and Rs 2,700 per course. “... a universal vaccine programme for India could be cost-effective based on a decision rule whereby an intervention that averts one disability-adjusted life-year for less than India’s GDP per capita ($ 1,017 in 2008) is considered to be a highly cost-effective intervention,” it said.