Household costs associated with seeking malaria treatment during pregnancy: evidence from Burkina Faso and The Gambia

Laetitia Duval, Elisa Sicuri, Susana Scott, Maminata Traore, Bunja Daabo, Halidou Tinto, Koen Peeters Grietens, Umberto D'Alessando, Henk Schallig, Petra Mens, Lesong Conteh

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Background Malaria in pregnancy remains a major health threat in sub-Saharan Africa to both expectant mothers and their unborn children. To date, there have been very few studies focused on the out of pocket costs associated with seeking treatment for malaria during pregnancy. Methods A cross-sectional survey was undertaken in Burkina Faso and The Gambia to estimate the direct and indirect costs associated with outpatient consultations (OP) and inpatient admissions (IP). Direct costs were broken down into medical (admission fees, drug charges, and laboratory fees), and non-medical (transportation and food). Indirect costs reflected time lost due to illness. In total, 220 pregnant women in Burkina Faso and 263 in The Gambia were interviewed about their treatment seeking decisions, expenditure, time use and financial support associated with each malaria episode. Results In Burkina Faso 6.7% sought treatment elsewhere before their OP visits, and 27.1% before their IP visits. This compares to 1.3% for OP and 25.92% for IP in The Gambia. Once at the facility, the average direct costs (out of pocket) were 3.91US$ for an OP visit and 15.38US$ of an IP visit in Burkina Faso, and 0.80US$ for an OP visit and 9.19US$ for an IP visit in The Gambia. Inpatient direct costs were driven by drug costs (9.27US$) and transportation costs (2.72US$) in Burkina Faso and drug costs (3.44 US$) and food costs (3.44 US$) in The Gambia. Indirect costs of IP visits, valued as the opportunity cost of time lost due to the illness, were estimated at 11.85US$ in Burkina Faso and 4.07US$ in The Gambia. The difference across the two countries was mainly due to the longer time of hospitalization in Burkina Faso compared to The Gambia. In The Gambia, the vast majority of pregnant women reported receiving financial support from family members living abroad, most commonly siblings (65%). Conclusions High malaria treatment costs are incurred by pregnant women in Burkina Faso and The Gambia. Beyond the medical costs of fees and drugs, costs in terms of transport, food and time are significant drivers. The role of remittances, particularly their effect on accessing health care, needs further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalCost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)42
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Malaria
  • Pregnancy
  • Cost
  • Remittances
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Burkina Faso
  • Gambia


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