In South Asia a large number of patients seek treatment for TB from private practitioners (PPs), and there is increasing international interest in involving PPs in TB control. To evaluate the feasibility, effectiveness and costs of public-private partnerships (PPPs) for TB control, a PPP was developed in Lalitpur municipality, Nepal, where it is estimated that 50% of patients with TB are managed in the private sector. From the clinical perspective the PPP was shown to be effective. The aim of this paper is to assess and report on the costs involved in the PPP scheme.
The approach to costing took a comprehensive view, with inclusion of costs not only incurred by health facilities but also social costs borne by patients and their escorts. Semi-structured questionnaires and guided interviews were used to collect start-up and recurrent costs for the scheme. Overall costs for treating a TB patient under the PPP scheme averaged US$89.60. Start-up costs per patient represented 12% of the total budget. Half of recurrent costs were incurred by patients and their escorts, with institutional costs representing most of the rest. Female patients tended to spend more and patients referred from the private sector had the highest reported costs.
Treating TB patients in the PPP scheme had a low additional cost, while doubling the case notification rate and maintaining a high success rate. Costs incurred by patients and their escorts were the largest contributors to the overall total. This suggests a focus for follow-up studies and for cost-minimisation strategies.
BMC Public Health (2007) 7:84 [doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-7-84]