Ministry of Health launches survey on TB patient treatment cost

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The Ministry of Health in collaboration with stakeholders has launched Ghana’s first National Tuberculosis (TB) Patient Cost survey to enable authorities take an informed decision on how to ameliorate poverty among persons living with the disease.

This is in line with policy efforts related to progress towards achieving universal health coverage (UHC), which is targeted at 3.8 percent of the sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The survey revealed that, patients with TB often incur large cost such as medical and transportation costs as related to illness and disability.

“Such cost can create access and adherence barriers, which in turn affect health outcome and increase the risk of disease transmission,” the result revealed.

This cost is associated with seeking and receiving healthcare and cost related to loss of income.

The Programmes Manager of the National TB Control, Dr Frank Bonsu, said, the programme has brought together various specialized stakeholders to dialogue and with a coordinated effort, conclude on how to address the cost incurred by TB patients during treatment.

He said the collaborated efforts initiated among stakeholders, definitely, ensures stakeholders’ commitment to deliver on their mandate before the end of the year.

“From the commitment received so far, we are sure of reaching our possible target before the end of the year,” he stated.

A Member of the TB control caucus in Parliament, Dr. Sebastian Sandaare, who is also the Member of Parliament for Daffiama-Bussie-Issa expressed worry over the result of the survey and promised to advocate for a legislative vote to ensure adequate funds are released so as to provide proper care for TB patients in the country.

Dr. Gloria Quansah Asare, Dep Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), who spoke on behalf of the Director-General said, their outfit is ready to dialogue with any interested party to achieve success and to end TB within the stipulated period.

She was optimistic Ghana would attain a high level of professionalism in tackling the catastrophic cost among TB patients as the nation forges ahead to end TB.

According to the survey which sampled about 691 TB patients, 64 percent of TB affected households faces catastrophic cost during treatment and such patients have lower monthly cost, compared to the population in Ghana.

“The survey also reveals that, cost of treatment turns to make patients poorer than the general population. It also indicated that, 24 percent of the Ghanaian population lives below the poverty line and within 46 percent with TB living below poverty line and 60 percent after treatment are living below the poverty line.

The report further shows that in terms of nutrition, about 22 percent of TB patients are malnourished, 32 percent are moderately malnourished, 46 percent are above the malnourished state and this has therefore engaged stakeholders to deliberate on how to tackle the issue of removing the catastrophic cost and meet the SDGs target in 2030.

Stakeholders involved in the survey include the World Health Organization (WHO), USAID, Ghana Health Service (GHS), Government of Japan and London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Source: Nii Aflah Sackey

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