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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


ALVIS GUZMAN, Nelson et al. The economic costs of pneumonia in children under 2 years of age in Colombia. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2005, vol.17, n.3, pp.178-183. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBEJCTIVE: To analyze the costs of pneumonias presumed to be of viral or bacterial origin, as diagnosed by chest X ray, in four reference center hospitals in three cities in Colombia. METHODS: A total of 128 cases of pneumonia (64 bacterial cases and 64 viral cases) that had consecutively entered the hospitals in the study between July 2001 and January 2003 were investigated. The diagnosis of pneumonia was based on chest X rays. The study population was composed of children under 2 years of age who required hospitalization. In order to estimate the costs for bacterial pneumonias and viral pneumonias, the cost of each activity was determined for each case, and then average costs were calculated. RESULTS: The average cost of the presumably bacterial pneumonia cases was US$ 611.50 (95% confidence interval (95% CI), US$ 532.20-690.80); that of the presumably viral cases was US$ 472.20 (95% CI, US$ 331.80-612.60). The observed differences were due to direct expenses, especially drugs (antibiotics), special services, and diagnostic tests. In the two groups the families were similar in their incomes and the indirect costs that they had to bear, so the indirect costs were not considered relevant in terms of distinguishing between the costs caused by the two forms of pneumonia. CONCLUSIONS: The study found differences in the direct costs of care between the presumably bacterial cases and the presumably viral ones. The study results also gave an approximation of the indirect costs to the patients' families caused by the pneumonias. The differences found in the direct costs also indicate that X-ray diagnosis is useful for differentiating between viral and bacterial pneumonia. Few studies in Latin America have assessed the economic costs of pneumonia in children, so this study can serve as a reference for future research on the impact of interventions against pneumonia.

Keywords : Health care costs; pneumonia; Colombia.

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