In 2007, various countries around the world notified 178677 cases of cholera and 4033 cholera deaths to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 62% of those cases and 56.7% of deaths were reported from the WHO African Region alone. To date, no study has been undertaken in the Region to estimate the economic burden of cholera for use in advocacy for its prevention and control. The objective of this study was to estimate the direct and indirect cost of cholera in the WHO African Region.
Drawing information from various secondary sources, this study used standard cost-of-illness methods to estimate: (a) the direct costs, i.e. those borne by the health-care system and the family in directly addressing cholera; and (b) the indirect costs, i.e. loss of productivity caused by cholera, which is borne by the individual, the family or the employer. The study was based on the number of cholera cases and deaths notified to the World Health Organization by countries of the WHO African Region.
The 125018 cases of cholera notified to WHO by countries of the African Region in 2005 resulted in a real total economic loss of US$39 million, US$ 53.2 million and US$64.2 million, assuming a regional life expectancies of 40, 53 and 73 years respectively. The 203,564 cases of cholera notified in 2006 led to a total economic loss US$91.9 million, US$128.1 million and US$156 million, assuming life expectancies of 40, 53 and 73 years respectively. The 110,837 cases of cholera notified in 2007 resulted in an economic loss of US$43.3 million, US$60 million and US$72.7 million, assuming life expectancies of 40, 53 and 73 years respectively.
There is an urgent need for further research to determine the national-level economic burden of cholera, disaggregated by different productive and social sectors and occupations of patients and relatives, and national-level costs and effectiveness of alternative ways of scaling up population coverage of potable water and clean sanitation facilities.