Objective. To estimate the economic burden of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) on the rural population of one VL endemic district of Bihar, the state with 85% of India’s cases.
Methods. Using a survey of a stratified multistage sampling of 15 178 households with 214 individuals with VL in the previous 12 months, the study provides data on VL treatment expenditures, financing and days of work lost in the context of overall household expenditures, income sources and assets.
Results. Median household expenditures on VL treatment represent, on average, 11% of annual household expenditures and an estimated 7 months of an individual’s income at the daily wage in rural Bihar. With 87% of households forced to take out loans to finance disease costs, VL can contribute to a spiral of increasing poverty. The current pattern of VL treatment, with multiple visits and treatments for a single episode of illness, significantly increases the economic burden on the household.
Conclusion. India’s National Elimination Program to make effective treatments accessible to the rural poor, if combined with expanded efforts to improve timely access to diagnosis by conducting rapid diagnostic tests closer to the community (and mobilizing the rural population to seek effective treatment earlier), can reduce VL’s economic burden on India’s rural households.
Sarnoff, R.; Desai, J.; Desjeux, P.; Mittal, A.; Topno, R.; Siddiqui, N.A.; Pandey, A.; Dur, D.; Das, P. The economic impact of visceral leishmaniasis on rural households in one endemic district of Bihar, India. Tropical Medicine and International Health (2010) 15: 42-49. [Special Issue: Burden of Disease of Visceral Leishmaniasis in South Asia] [DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2010.02516.x]