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The role and importance of economic evaluation of traditional herbal medicine use for chronic non-communicable diseases

Authors Hughes G, Aboyade O, Hill J, Rasu R

Received 7 November 2014

Accepted for publication 25 February 2015

Published 16 July 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 49—55

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CER.S77163

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Corrine Voils

Gail D Hughes,1 Oluwaseyi M Aboyade,1 John D Hill,2 Rafia S Rasu3

1South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute, University of the Western Cape, Western Cape, South Africa; 2Department of Pharmacy, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, 3School of Pharmacy, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA

Background: Non-communicable diseases (NCD) constitute major public health problems globally, with an impact on morbidity and mortality ranking high and second to HIV/AIDS. Existing studies conducted in South Africa have demonstrated that people living with NCD rely on traditional herbal medicine (THM) primarily or in combination with conventional drugs. The primary research focus has been on the clinical and experimental aspects of THM use for NCD, with limited data on the economic impact of health care delivery. Therefore, the purpose of this study will be to determine the cost and utilization of resources on THM in South Africa for NCD.
Materials and methods: Study describes the methods toward incorporating cost estimations and economic evaluation illustrated with the Prospective Urban and rural Epidemiological (PURE) study in South Africa. The South African PURE cohort is investigating the geographic and socioeconomic influence of THM spending and utilization, variations in spending based on perceived health status, marital status, and whether spending patterns have any impact on hospitalizations and disability.
Data collection and evaluation plan: Since the individual costs of THM are not regulated nor do they have a standardized price value, information obtained through this study can be utilized to assess differences and determine underlying factors contributing to spending. This insight into THM spending patterns can aid in the development and implementation of guidelines or standardized legislation governing THM use and distribution. An economic evaluation and cost estimation model has been proposed, while the data collection is still ongoing. Particularly, willingness to pay method measures how much participants are willing to pay for THM for perceived improvements in health. Resource-use and expenditures along with annual direct costs for households will be determined.
Conclusion: Economic evaluations can provide insight for health care policy decision makers on the appropriate inclusion of THM to reduce the overall burden of health care costs in South Africa. Because of the increased prevalence of integrative medicine, it is crucial to consider potential implications and their use of comparative effectiveness research to incorporate complementary and alternative medicine in future.

Keywords: complementary medicine, alternative medicine, economics, comparative effectiveness research, CAM

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