Stop Tuberculosis

Catastrophic cost

WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

Eliminating the financial hardship of TB

Falling ill with TB often carries a devastating financial burden with social repercussions.

On average, TB patients in low- and middle-income countries face medical expenses, costs of seeking/staying in care, and income loss equivalent to more than 50% of his or her annual income.

Catastrophic cost

Although basic TB services are available free of charge in almost all countries, TB patients continue suffering from a heavy financial burden. A systematic review showed that families with TB patients in low- and middle-income countries lost more than half of their household annual income due to TB. Importantly, about half of the financial burden is incurred before patients are diagnosed. Loss of income and direct expenses trigger a downward spiral whereby the patient is less able to complete treatment, more likely to have repeat episodes, and more likely to develop drug resistance resulting in more expensive and arduous treatment.

The End TB Strategy

WHO is developing standard indicators and measurement approaches, including for the monitoring of a proposed post-2015 TB target of “no TB-affected family facing catastrophic cost due to TB by 2020”.

Majority of TB patients come from low-income households, measuring their burden of catastrophic cost could be useful overall indicator of equality in advancing towards UHC.