Background: Despite free tuberculosis (TB) care in Pakistan, patients still have to bear high costs, which push them into poverty. This study estimated the pre- and post-diagnosis costs households bear for TB care, and investigated coping mechanisms among adults ≥ 18 years in Karachi, Pakistan. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study comprising of 516 TB patients identified with completion of at least one month intensive treatment from four public sector health facilities from two institutes in Karachi, Pakistan. A standardized questionnaire to estimate patient's costs was administered. The study outcomes were direct medical and non-medical costs, and indirect costs. The costs were estimated during pre-diagnostic and post-diagnostic phase which includes diagnostic, treatment, and hospitalization phases. A descriptive analysis including mean and standard deviation (± SD), median and interquartile range (IQR), and frequencies and proportions (%) was employed. Results: Out of 516 TB patients, 52.1% were female with a mean age of 32.4 (± 13.7) years. The median costs per patient during the pre-diagnostic, diagnostic, treatment and hospitalization periods were estimated at USD63.8/ PKR7,377, USD24/ PKR2,755, USD10.5/ PKR1,217, and USD349.0/ PKR40,300, respectively. The total household median cost was estimated at USD129.2/ PKR14,919 per patient. The median indirect cost was estimated at USD52.0/ PKR5,950 per patient. Of total, 54.1% of patients preferred and consulted private providers in the first place at the onset of symptoms, while, 36% attended public healthcare services, 5% and 4.1% went to dispensary and pharmacy, respectively, as a first point of care. Conclusions: TB patients bear substantial out-of-pocket costs before they are enrolled in publically funded TB programs. There should be provision of transport and food vouchers, also health insurance for in-patient treatment. This advocates a critical investigation into an existing financial support network for TB patients in Pakistan towards reducing the burden.
- Household expenditures
- Pre- and post-diagnostic costs
- TB care