It costs the government an average of Sh29,777 per day to effectively treat or manage patients who have contracted Covid-19, a new study has revealed.
According to the study conducted by the Health Economics Research Unit and the Kemri Wellcome Trust, the least that it costs to treat an asymptomatic patient is Sh21,359 while the highest treatment regimen for patients with severe disease currently stands at Sh71,283.
Although all these costs are being absorbed by the government for those seeking treatment in public hospitals and State-run isolation centres, the study warns that the costs could soon be passed to the public if the government fails to develop a sustainable financing arrangement for the pandemic.
According to the study which was released on Wednesday, the amount is driven by Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which accounts for approximately 65 per cent of the total costs. This means that interventions to reduce PPE costs will improve the affordability of Covid- 19 case-management.
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On the other hand, the study found that home-based care is nine times cheaper to the health system compared to institutional care-hospitals or isolation centres.
“Institutional care is driven by PPE, accommodation and overhead (hotel) costs, and staff costs,” it reads.
In arriving at its findings, the researchers priced the case management of Covid-19 patients from a health system perspective.
“We used a micro-costing approach, identifying all inputs required for clinical case-management guidelines by studying 24 healthcare facilities in Kenya,” the study reads.
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To arrive at various price points, the researchers used two scenarios for patients with asymptomatic or mild Covid-19 disease. In the first scenario, it was assumed that these patients will be managed in hospitals or isolation centres.
“This scenario incurs accommodation and overhead costs (hotel costs), staffing and personal protective equipment (PPE) costs that are comparable with severe forms of disease,” the study reads.
In scenario two, the researchers assumed that patients that are asymptomatic or have mild Covid-19 will be treated at home in line with the WHO and Ministry of Health home-based care guidelines.
This scenario is approximately nine times cheaper compared to the scenario where these patients are managed in a hospital or an isolation centre because of cost-savings on accommodation and overhead costs, staff costs and PPE costs.
The estimated unit cost of patients with severe Covid-19 disease who are in need of hospitalisation in general wards and in need of oxygen therapy as well as those in critical condition can go up to Sh71,000 per day.
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“We also estimated the unit costs for patients who develop critical Covid-19 disease and hence are hospitalised in ICUs with the option for mechanical ventilation. PPE is the main cost driver for per patient daily costs for Covid-19 case-management. It accounts for approximately 65 per cent of total costs. This is because of the need to change PPE several times in a day to protect health workers,” the study shows.
As a recommendation, authors of the study say that there is an urgent need to develop a pre-payment mechanism to provide financial risk protection to patients and households against the financial hardships that they will face if required to pay for Covid- 19 case-management costs out of pocket.
“Interventions to reduce PPE cost will improve the affordability of Covid-19 case management,” the authors state.