What is the Cost of Diarrheal Illness?

Warsaw, Poland – In developed countries acute gastrointestinal infections are common but do not usually cause serious complications. Symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and/or abdominal pain, usually last only a few days and as a result, affected people rarely visit their doctors. For this reason the real burden of gastroenteritis is not well established.

It was found that despite the relatively low cost of individual gastroenteritis episodes in Poland (168 USD), the number of illnesses occurring in the society each year results in an estimated cost of 2 billion USD, 0.3% of Polish GDP. 

Researchers from the Medical University of Warsaw and the National Institute of Health summarized the direct medical, non-medical and indirect costs related to acute gastrointestinal infections case management among patients attending 11 randomly selected general practices and 8 hospital units.

The researchers discovered that between 2008-2009, there were an estimated 33 million gastrointestinal infections among the Polish population.  A total of  30% of those infected consulted a general practitioner, and 5% were admitted to the hospital. Through this investigation, the researchers estimated the average cost of one medically-attended gastroenteritis case at the level of 136 USD paid by the state, 32 USD paid by the patient. Taking into account the number of gastroenteritis cases that occur annually in Poland, the estimated societal cost of medically-attended gastroenteritis episodes would be 2,222 million USD.

According to Marcin Czech, PhD, MD, MBA, from the Medical University of Warsaw, “This data may imply that much higher resources could be allotted to the prevention and control of acute gastroenteritis, even when only considering their direct medical costs. These results can also impact health care planning, as prevention of nosocomial transmission of acute gastroenteritis illnesses (AGI) pathogens may lead to substantial savings.” The full study, “Costs of Medically-Attended Acute Gastrointestinal Infections: The Polish Prospective Healthcare Utilization Survey,” is published in Value in Health Regional Issues.

Value in Health Regional Issues  (ISSN 2212-1099) is a scientific journal that encourages and enhances the science of pharmacoeconomic/health economic and health outcomes research and its use in health care decisions. The journal is published up to three times a year with one issue focusing on the Asia region, one issue focusing on the Latin America region, and one issue focusing on the Central & Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Africa regions.

The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

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