South Africa pays a high cost for drug resistant tuberculosis: study

19 January 2013 - 11:32 By Times LIVE
Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ziehl-Neelsen stain. The bacteria has been stained red to show up against the blue tissue.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ziehl-Neelsen stain. The bacteria has been stained red to show up against the blue tissue.
Image: CDC

According to a study a case of extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) costs South Africa about $26 392 (R234 516.67) to treat, which is four times that of drug resistant TB, which costs $6 772, and a 103 times more than drug sensitive TB, which costs $257.

The study, published on PloS One, was done in order to figure out just how much more money the evolution of drug resistant strains of TB cost, given the lack of data on the subject.

According to the researchers drug resistant TB "consumed about 32% of the total estimated 2011 national TB budget of $218 million."

This is despite the fact that it only accounted for about 2.2% of TB cases.

About 71% of the cost for multi-drug resistant TB was in the drugs and lab work, but with extensively drug resistant TB drugs and hospital stays took up 92% of the costs involved.

"Although drug resistant TB forms a very small proportion of the total case burden it consumes a disproportionate and substantial amount of South Africa’s total annual TB budget," the researchers wrote.

While the researchers do suggest that perhaps a carefully monitored outpatient approach may reduce costs for treating extensively drug resistant  tuberculosis, they warn that their study was a cost analysis, not a cost-benefit analysis, so further study is needed to establish whether that would actually work.