The cost of a school based mass treatment of schistosomiasis in Ugu District, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa in 2012.
INTRODUCTION: The Neglected Tropical Diseases Roadmap of the WHO set targets for potential elimination as a "public health problem" for the period 2012-2020 in multiple countries in Africa, with the aim of global elimination of schistosomiasis as a "public health problem" by 2025.
AIM: The purpose of the study was to estimate the cost from a provider's perspective of the Department of Health's Schistosomiasis Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in Ugu District, KwaZulu-Natal in 2012, with a view to project the costs for the entire KwaZulu Natal Province.
METHODS: A total of 491 public schools and 16 independent schools in Ugu District, a predominantly rural district in KwaZulu-Natal with a total of 218 242 learners, were included in the schistosomiasis control programme. They were randomly selected from schools situated below an altitude of 300 meters, where schistosomiasis is endemic. A retrospective costing study was conducted using the provider's perspective to cost. Cost data were collected by reviewing existing records including financial statements, invoices, receipts, transport log books, equipment inventories, and information from personnel payroll, existing budget, and the staff diaries.
RESULTS: A total of 15571 children were treated in 2012, resulting in a total cost of the MDA programme of ZAR 2 137 143 and a unit cost of ZAR 137. The three main cost components were Medication Costs (37%), Human Resources Cost (36%) and Capital items (16%). The total cost for treating all eligible pupils in KwaZulu-Natal will be ZAR 149 031 888. However, should the capital cost be excluded, then the unit cost will be ZAR 112 per patient and this will translate to a total cost of ZAR 121 836 288.
CONCLUSIONS: Low coverage exacerbates the cost of the programme and makes a decision to support such a programme difficult. However, a normative costing study based on the integration of the programme within the Department of Health should be conducted.