Economic burden of glaucoma in Rivers State, Nigeria
Adedayo O Adio,1 Alfred A Onua2
1University Of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, 2Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria
Background: Primary open angle glaucoma is reported to blind 150,000 people in the Nigerian population and over 7000 in Rivers State, and requires constant follow-up. Compliance is a challenge, given that most inhabitants live below the poverty line. This study was performed to determine how Nigerian patients are affected economically by the disease.
Methods: Consecutive adult patients attending the eye clinic of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Rivers State, Nigeria, with a diagnosis of primary open angle glaucoma and on outpatient antiglaucoma treatment in the first 6 months of 2006, were recruited for the study. The lowest paid government worker was on USD50 (N7500.00) per month and the gross domestic product per capita was USD1150 for the period under review.
Results: We enrolled 120 consecutive patients of mean age 52.7 ± 10.4 years, with a male to female ratio of 2:3. The most common occupations were in the civil service (n = 56, 46.7%). All participants were on topical antiglaucoma treatment. The average cost of medical antiglaucoma medication was N6000 (USD40) per month. Computed to include indirect costs, including medical laboratory tests, transportation, and care by patient escorts, an average sum of USD105.4 (N15,810) was spent by each patient per month. Most of the patients (73.3%) were responsible for their own treatment costs. No patient accepted the cheaper option of surgery (USD275.4, N41,310). Eighty of the patients (66.7%) visited our eye clinic monthly. Direct and indirect loss to the economy was USD3,064587 per annum from those already blind. This was in addition to the USD 4.1 million being spent yearly on medical treatment by those who were visually impaired by glaucoma.
Conclusion: Middle-income earners spent over 50% of their monthly income and low-income earners spend all their monthly earnings on treatment for glaucoma. This situation often resulted in noncompliance with treatment and hospital follow-up visits. To reduce the economic burden of glaucoma, trabeculectomy performed by experienced surgeons should be offered as first-line treatment for glaucoma in this country, rather than medical therapy.
Keywords: economic burden, chronic glaucoma, blindness, Rivers State, Nigeria
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