Infectious Diseases of Poverty
[Accessed 6 January 2018]
18 December 2017
The monetary value of human lives lost due to neglected tropical diseases in Africa
Authors: Joses Muthuri Kirigia and Gitonga N. Mburugu
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are an important cause of death and disability in Africa. This study estimates the monetary value of human lives lost due to NTDs in the continent in 2015.
The lost output or human capital approach was used to evaluate the years of life lost due to premature deaths from NTDs among 10 high/upper-middle-income (Group 1), 17 middle-income (Group 2) and 27 low-income (Group 3) countries in Africa. The future losses were discounted to their present values at a 3% discount rate. The model was re-analysed using 5% and 10% discount rates to assess the impact on the estimated total value of human lives lost.
The estimated value of 67,860 human lives lost in 2015 due to NTDs was Int$5,112,472,607. Out of that, 14.6% was borne by Group 1, 57.7% by Group 2 and 27.7% by Group 3 countries. The mean value of human life lost per NTD death was Int$231,278, Int$109,771 and Int$37,489 for Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3 countries, respectively. The estimated value of human lives lost in 2015 due to NTDs was equivalent to 0.1% of the cumulative gross domestic product of the 53 continental African countries.
Even though NTDs are not a major cause of death, they impact negatively on the productivity of those affected throughout their life-course. Thus, the case for investing in NTDs control should also be influenced by the value of NTD morbidity, availability of effective donated medicines, human rights arguments, and need to achieve the NTD-related target 3.3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 (on health) by 2030.