Socioeconomics of a Global Leprosy Eradication Programme
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- Naik, S.S. & Ganapati, R. Pharmacoeconomics (1998) 13: 677. doi:10.2165/00019053-199813060-00004
In the absence of evidence in the literature on cost factors in the management of leprosy, a reference is made to the sporadic attempts to study costs of case detection and treatment. Such studies indicate that in the currently declining phase of leprosy endemicity, employing a conventionally trained, salaried class of paramedical staff for field surveys is prohibitively expensive if cost per case detected is computed. Involving primary healthcare and community derived workers is cost effective. Likewise, short course chemotherapy with newer drugs under trial, administered under supervision by community volunteers, reduces the expenses considerably. Community-based disability services using inexpensive tools may cut costs by 90%. Operational research on cost effectiveness of rehabilitation comparing ‘integrated’ with ‘vertical’ approaches is, unfortunately, still in a primitive stage.
It is urged that in view of the changing logistics, manpower costs and financial implications should be given serious consideration by health planners. Postelimination problems such as: (i) unearthing hidden cases; (ii) community-based supervised treatment with highly promising newer drugs; (iii) identification of reactions and relapses; and (iv) field management of disabilities resulting from acute and silent neuritis etc could be solved in a much cheaper manner. Integration of leprosy into general healthcare services and community-based rehabilitation of leprosy patients along with those disabled by other diseases will be the major task in future as these procedures are expected to reduce management costs and eliminate stigma.