The cost of universal free access for treating HIV/AIDS in low-income countries: the case of Senegal

Abstract : Since late 2003 in Senegal, voluntary tests, ARVs and CD4 counts have been provided free of charge by the State within the framework of public health services. Debate now focuses on expanding free access to other components of care (consultations, hospitalizations, complementary exams for opportunistic infections). A preliminary study assessed the supplementary cost needed to fund all care and appraised this measure's impact on the national program. Direct costs for treatment were calculated using two different methods: (1) by calculating total expenditures for a sample of 299 patients over a 22-month period (July 2003 to April 2005) treated by HAART (2 NRTI + 1 PI or NNRTI); and (2) by assessing the theoretical costs necessary to apply the national treatment protocols. Furthermore, national budgetary projections were analyzed to estimate possible margins available to officials. In 2006, the total cost of medical care for someone taking ARVs falls around 412€ per year; 84% of the cost covers the price of ARVs and reagents for CD4 counts. The total annual cost of medical care for a PLWHA who does not need ARV drugs is approximately 40€ per year, with 90% of this amount covering biological exams. Projections concerning changes in the number of PLWHA and treatment needs and analysis of budget estimations for 2007-2011 demonstrate that supplementary costs incurred by complete free access could be easily covered without disrupting the proposed funding plan. Complete free access for medical care for all PLWHA in the country is therefore economically feasible; what remains is to define this decision's integration into the current paying health system without causing disturbances that render the decision ineffective.
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Bernard Taverne, Diop Karim, Vinard Philippe. The cost of universal free access for treating HIV/AIDS in low-income countries: the case of Senegal. Coriat, B. The Political Economy of HIV/AIDS in Developing Countries. TRIPS, Public Health Systems and Free Access, Edward Elgar, pp.273-290, 2008. ⟨ird-00403656⟩

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