The prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is rising in low- and middle-income countries, including Kenya, disproportionately to the rest of the world. Our objective was to quantify patient payments to obtain NCD screening, diagnosis, and treatment services in the public and private sector in Kenya and evaluate patients' ability to pay for the services.
Methods and findings
We collected payment data on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, breast and cervical cancer, and respiratory diseases from Kenyatta National Hospital, the main tertiary public hospital, and the Kibera South Health Center-a public outpatient facility, and private sector practitioners and hospitals. We developed detailed treatment frameworks for each NCD and used an itemization cost approach to estimate payments. Patient affordability metrics were derived from Kenyan government surveys and national datasets.
Results compare public and private costs in U.S. dollars. NCD screening costs ranged from $4 to $36, while diagnostic procedures, particularly for breast and cervical cancer, were substantially more expensive. Annual hypertension medication costs ranged from $26 to $234 and $418 to $987 in public and private facilities, respectively. Stroke admissions ($1,874 versus $16,711) and dialysis for chronic kidney disease ($5,338 versus $11,024) were among the most expensive treatments. Cervical and breast cancer treatment cost for stage III (curative approach) was about $1,500 in public facilities and more than $7,500 in the private facilities. A large proportion of Kenyans aged 15 to 49 years do not have health insurance, which makes NCD services unaffordable for most people given the overall high cost of services relative to income (average household expenditure per adult is $413 per annum).
There is substantial variation in patient costs between the public and private sectors. Most NCD diagnosis and treatment costs, even in the public sector, represent a substantial economic burden that can result in catastrophic expenditures.