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Understanding the costs of influenza-associated illness in Bangladesh may help health authorities assess the cost-effectiveness of influenza prevention programs. We estimated the annual economic burden of influenza-associated hospitalizations and outpatient visits in Bangladesh.
From May through October 2010, investigators identified both outpatients and inpatients at four tertiary hospitals with laboratory-confirmed influenza infection through rRT-PCR. Research assistants visited case-patients' homes within 30 days of hospital visit/discharge and administered a structured questionnaire to capture direct medical costs (physician consultation, hospital bed, medicines and diagnostic tests), direct non-medical costs (food, lodging and travel) and indirect costs (case-patients' and caregivers' lost income). We used WHO-Choice estimates for routine healthcare service costs. We added direct, indirect and healthcare service costs to calculate cost-per-episode. We used median cost-per-episode, published influenza-associated outpatient and hospitalization rates and Bangladesh census data to estimate the annual economic burden of influenza-associated illnesses in 2010.
We interviewed 132 outpatients and 41 hospitalized patients. The median cost of an influenza-associated outpatient visit was US$4.80 (IQR = 2.93–8.11) and an influenza-associated hospitalization was US$82.20 (IQR = 59.96–121.56). We estimated that influenza-associated outpatient visits resulted in US$108 million (95% CI: 76–147) in direct costs and US$59 million (95% CI: 37–91) in indirect costs; influenza-associated hospitalizations resulted in US$1.4 million (95% CI: 0.4–2.6) in direct costs and US$0.4 million (95% CI: 0.1–0.8) in indirect costs in 2010.
In Bangladesh, influenza-associated illnesses caused an estimated US$169 million in economic loss in 2010, largely driven by frequent but low-cost outpatient visits.