Can patients afford the cost of treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Ethiopia?

R. H. Berhanu, K. Schnippel, R. Kularatne, C. Firnhaber, K. R. Jacobson, C. R. Horsburgh, C. K. Lippincott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


SETTING: Ethiopia has a high prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) and is one of the countries with the highest burden of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). OBJECTIVE: To understand the costs that patients incur in obtaining diagnosis and treatment for MDR-TB. DESIGN: In March 2013, interviews were conducted with 169 MDR-TB patients at three hospitals in Ethiopia to identify the cost to patients and the impact on employment and family income. RESULTS: The average MDR-TB patient incurred a total cost of US$1378, which represented 25 months of a mid-treatment household income of US$54. The impact on the patient's employment and on overall patient and family income was generally catastrophic: 74% of all respondents reported losing their jobs, 66% of patients lost household income, and household income was reduced by 38%. To help cover the costs, 38% of patients sold some type of property, while 7% leased out property and 41% took out loans, any of which could jeopardize their future financial situation even further. CONCLUSION: Despite services being officially free of charge, most patients incurred catastrophic costs and suffered significant income loss as a result of obtaining diagnosis and treatment for MDR-TB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-362
Number of pages5
JournalThe international journal of tuberculosis and lung disease : the official journal of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases


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