BACKGROUND: Almost one-third of adult Canadians are at increased risk of disability, disease and premature death because of being obese. In order to allocate limited health care resources rationally, it is necessary to elucidate the economic burden of obesity. OBJECTIVE: To estimate the direct costs related to the treatment of and research into obesity in Canada in 1997. METHODS: The prevalence of obesity (body mass index of 27 or greater) in Canada was determined using data from the National Population Health Survey, 1994-1995. Ten comorbidities of obesity were identified from the medical literature. A population attributable fraction (PAF) was calculated for each comorbidity with data from large cohort studies to determine the extent to which each comorbidity and its management costs were attributable to obesity. The direct cost of each comorbidity was determined using data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information (for direct expenditure categories) and from Health Canada (for the proportion of expenditure category attributable to the comorbidity). This prevalence-based approach identified the direct costs of hospital care, physician services, services of other health professionals, drugs, other health care and health research. For each comorbidity, the cost attributable to obesity was determined by multiplying the PAF by the total direct cost of the comorbidity. The overall impact of obesity was estimated as the sum of the PAF-weighted costs of treating the comorbidities. A sensitivity analysis was completed on both the estimated costs and the PAFs. RESULTS: The total direct cost of obesity in Canada in 1997 was estimated to be over $1.8 billion. This corresponded to 2.4% of the total health care expenditures for all diseases in Canada in 1997. The sensitivity analysis revealed that the total cost could be as high as $3.5 billion or as low as $829.4 million; this corresponded to 4.6% and 1.1% respectively of the total health care expenditures in 1997. When the contributions of the comorbidities to the total cost were considered, the 3 largest contributors were hypertension ($656.6 million), type 2 diabetes mellitus ($423.2 million) and coronary artery disease ($346.0 million). INTERPRETATION: A considerable proportion of health care dollars is devoted to the treatment and management of obesity-related comorbidities in Canada. Further research into the therapeutic benefits and cost-effectiveness of management strategies for obesity is required. It is anticipated that the prevention and treatment of obesity will have major positive effects on the overall cost of health care. (+info)
Selection for oesophagectomy and postoperative outcome in a defined population.
OBJECTIVE: To measure the extent of use of, and perioperative mortality from, oesophagectomy for carcinoma of the oesophagus, and to examine the association between oesophagectomy and long term survival. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study of cases of oesophageal carcinoma notified to the Thames Cancer Registry. SETTING: South East Thames and South West Thames health regions. PATIENTS: 3273 patients first registered with carcinoma of the oesophagus during 1985-9, 789 of whom were excluded because of incomplete data, leaving 2484 (75.9%) for further analysis. MAIN MEASURES: Treatment of oesophagectomy, mortality within 30 days of oesophagectomy, and duration of survival from date of diagnosis to death, according to patient and tumour characteristics. RESULTS: Oesophagectomy was performed in 571(23.0%) patients. Its use decreased with increasing age (odds ratio (95% confidence interval) 0.935(0.925 to 0.944) per year) and was less common for tumours of the middle or upper third of the oesophagus than the lower third (0.56(0.42 to 0.75)). The proportion of patients undergoing oesophagectomy varied threefold among the 28 districts of residence. The perioperative mortality rate was 15.1(86/571) (12% to 18%); it increased with age (odds ratio 1.05(1.02 to 1.08) per year) and for tumours of the middle or upper third of the oesophagus compared with the lower third (2.52(1.31 to 4.84)). Long term survival was slightly higher for patients undergoing oesophagectomy (0.5% v 0.2%). CONCLUSIONS: Despite a high perioperative mortality rate patients selected for oesophagectomy showed better long term survival than those who were not, suggesting that clinical judgements used in selection were independent markers of a better prognosis. The nature of this selection needs to be more completely characterised to permit a valid evaluation of outcome of oesophagectomy. (+info)
Resource allocation for public hospitals in Andhra Pradesh, India.
The composition of the hospital sector has important implications for cost effectiveness accessibility and coverage. The classification of acute general hospitals is reviewed here with particular reference to India and Andhra Pradesh. Approaches to arrive at a norm for allocation of hospital expenditure among secondary and tertiary hospitals are discussed. The actual allocation of public sector hospital expenditures is analyzed with data from Andhra Pradesh. The shift in allocative emphasis away from hospitals and in favour of primary health care during the 1980s was found to have been equally shared by secondary and tertiary hospitals. The shares of recurrent (non-plan) expenditure to secondary and tertiary hospitals were 51% and 49% respectively. This can be compared to a derived norm of 66% and 33%. The opportunity that new investment funds (plan schemes) could have provided to rectify the expenditure bias against secondary level hospitals was missed as two-thirds of plan expenditure were also spent on tertiary level hospitals. The share of secondary hospital bed capacity was 45.5% against India's Planning Commission norm of 70%. Public spending strategies should explicitly consider what mix of hospital services is being financed as well as the balance between hospital and primary health care expenditures. (+info)
Ability to pay for health care: concepts and evidence.
In many developing countries people are expected to contribute to the cost of health care from their own pockets. As a result, people's ability to pay (ATP) for health care, or the affordability of health care, has become a critical policy issue in developing countries, and a particularly urgent issue where households face combined user fee burdens from various essential service sectors such as health, education and water. Research and policy debates have focused on willingness to pay (WTP) for essential services, and have tended to assume that WTP is synonymous with ATP. This paper questions this assumption, and suggests that WTP may not reflect ATP. Households may persist in paying for care, but to mobilize resources they may sacrifice other basic needs such as food and education, with serious consequences for the household or individuals within it. The opportunity costs of payment make the payment 'unaffordable' because other basic needs are sacrificed. An approach to ATP founded on basic needs and the opportunity costs of payment strategies (including non-utilization) is therefore proposed. From the few studies available, common household responses to payment difficulties are identified, ranging from borrowing to more serious 'distress sales' of productive assets (e.g. land), delays to treatment and, ultimately, abandonment of treatment. Although these strategies may have a devastating impact on livelihoods and health, few studies have investigated them in any detail. In-depth longitudinal household studies are proposed to develop understanding of ATP and to inform policy initiative which might contribute to more affordable health care. (+info)
Choice and accountability in health promotion: the role of health economics.
Choices need to be made between competing uses of health care resources. There is debate about how these choices should be made, who should make them and the criteria upon which they should be made. Evaluation of health care is an important part of this debate. It has been suggested that the contribution of health economics to the evaluation of health promotion is limited, both because the methods and principles underlying economic evaluation are unsuited to health promotion, and because the political and cultural processes governing the health care system are more appropriate mechanisms for allocating health care resources than systematic economic analysis of the costs and benefits of different health care choices. This view misrepresents and misunderstands the contribution of health economics to the evaluation of health promotion. It overstates the undoubted methodological difficulties of evaluating health promotion. It also argues, mistakenly, that economists see economic evaluation as a substitute for the political and cultural processes governing health care, rather than an input to them. This paper argues for an economics input on grounds of efficiency, accountability and ethics, and challenges the critics of the economic approach to judge alternative mechanisms for allocating resources by the same criteria. (+info)
Audit in the therapy professions: some constraints on progress.
AIMS: To ascertain views about constraints on the progress of audit experienced by members of four of the therapy professions: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and clinical psychology. METHODS: Interviews in six health service sites with a history of audit in these professions. 62 interviews were held with members of the four professions and 60 with other personnel with relevant involvement. Five main themes emerged as the constraints on progress: resources; expertise; relations between groups; organisational structures; and overall planning of audit activities. RESULTS: Concerns about resources focused on lack of time, insufficient finance, and lack of access to appropriate systems of information technology. Insufficient expertise was identified as a major constraint on progress. Guidance on designing instruments for collection of data was the main concern, but help with writing proposals, specifying and keeping to objectives, analysing data, and writing reports was also required. Although sources of guidance were sometimes available, more commonly this was not the case. Several aspects of relations between groups were reported as constraining the progress of audit. These included support and commitment, choice of audit topics, conflicts between staff, willingness to participate and change practice, and concerns about confidentiality. Organisational structures which constrained audit included weak links between heads of professional services and managers of provider units, the inhibiting effect of change, the weakening of professional coherence when therapists were split across directorates, and the ethos of regarding audit findings as business secrets. Lack of an overall plan for audit meant that while some resources were available, others equally necessary for successful completion of projects were not. CONCLUSION: Members of four of the therapy professions identified a wide range of constraints on the progress of audit. If their commitment to audit is to be maintained these constraints require resolution. It is suggested that such expert advice, but also that these are directed towards the particular needs of the four professions. Moreover, a forum is required within which all those with a stake in therapy audit can acknowledge and resolve the different agendas which they may have in the enterprise. (+info)
Aid instruments and health systems development: an analysis of current practice.
There has been a clear shift in the policy of many donors in the health sector-away from discrete project assistance towards more broad-based sectoral support. This paper, based on interviews with officials in a number of bilateral and multilateral agencies, explores whether this shift in policy has been matched by similar changes in the form or range of aid instruments. The paper develops a framework for examining current practice in relation to the different objectives that donors seek to promote through technical and financial assistance. In particular, it looks in some detail at the advantages and disadvantages of budgetary support compared to more traditional forms of project assistance. It concludes that the debate should not be about whether one form of aid is better than another. Ideally, they should be complementary and the forms, channels and systems used for managing aid need to be assessed in relation to how they help to achieve the mix of development objectives that are most appropriate to the country concerned. The review demonstrates that this is a complex task and that to achieve an effective balance is not easy. The final section summarizes the main themes emerging from the discussion and suggests some preliminary conclusions and proposals for future action. (+info)
Costs and financing of improvements in the quality of maternal health services through the Bamako Initiative in Nigeria.
This paper reports on a study to assess the quality of maternal health care in public health facilities in Nigeria and to identify the resource implications of making the necessary quality improvements. Drawing upon unifying themes from quality assurance, basic microeconomics and the Bamako Initiative, locally defined norms were used to estimate resource requirements for improving the quality of maternal health care. Wide gaps existed between what is required (the norm) and what was available in terms of fixed and variable resources required for the delivery of maternal health services in public facilities implementing the Bamako Initiative in the Local Government Areas studied. Given such constraints, it was highly unlikely that technically acceptable standards of care could be met without additional resource inputs to meet the norm. This is part of the cost of doing business and merits serious policy dialogue. Revenue generation from health services was poor and appeared to be more related to inadequate supply of essential drugs and consumables than to the use of uneconomic fee scales. It is likely that user fees will be necessary to supplement scarce government budgets, especially to fund the most critical variable inputs associated with quality improvements. However, any user fee system, especially one that raises fees to patients, will have to be accompanied by immediate and visible quality improvements. Without such quality improvements, cost recovery will result in even lower utilization and attempts to generate new revenues are unlikely to succeed. (+info)