Impact of Increased Economic Burden Due to Human Echinococcosis in an Underdeveloped Rural Community of the People’s Republic of China
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Background: Ningxia is located in western People's Republic of China, which is hyperendemic for human cystic echinococcosis (CE) throughout the entire area with alveolar echinococcosis (AE) hyperendemic in the south. This is in part due to its underdeveloped economy. Despite the recent rapid growth in P.R. China's economy, medical expenditure for hospitalization of echinococcosis cases has become one of the major poverty generators in rural Ningxia, resulting in a significant social problem. Methodology/Principal Findings: We reviewed the 2000 inpatient records with liver CE in surgical departments of hospitals from north, central and south Ningxia for the period 1996-2002. We carried out an analysis of health care expenditure of inpatient treatment in public hospitals, and examined the financial inequalities relating to human echinococcosis and the variation in per capita income between various socioeconomic groups with different levels of gross domestic product for different years. Hospital charges for Yinchuan, NHAR's capital city in the north, increased approximately 35-fold more than the annual income of rural farmers with the result that they preferred to seek health care in local county hospitals, despite higher quality and more efficient treatment and diagnosis available in the city. Household income levels thus strongly influenced the choice of health care provider and the additional expense impeded access of poor people to better quality treatment. Conclusions/Significance: Information on socioeconomic problems arising from echinococcosis, which adds considerably to the burden on patient families and communities, needs to be collected as a prerequisite for developing policies to tackle the disease in rural Ningxia.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
© 2010 Yang et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES