Economic costs of endemic non-filarial elephantiasis in Wolaita Zone, Ethiopia

Trop Med Int Health. 2006 Jul;11(7):1136-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2006.01658.x.


Background: Endemic non-filarial elephantiasis or podoconiosis is a chronic and debilitating geochemical disease occurring in individuals exposed to red clay soil derived from alkalic volcanic rock. It is a major public health problem in countries in tropical Africa, Central America and North India.

Objective: To estimate the direct and the average productivity cost attributable to podoconiosis, and to compare the average productivity time of podoconiosis patients with non-patients.

Methods: Matched comparative cross sectional survey involving 702 study subjects (patients and non-patients) supplemented by interviews with key informants in Wolaita Zone, southern Ethiopia.

Results: Total direct costs of podoconiosis amounted to the equivalent of US$ 143 per patient per year. The total productivity loss for a patient amounted to 45% of the total working days per year, causing a monetary loss equivalent to US$ 63. In Wolaita zone, the overall cost of podoconiosis exceeds US$ 16 million per year.

Conclusions: Podoconiosis has enormous economic impact in affected areas. Simple preventive measures (such as use of robust footwear) must be promoted by health policy makers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Elephantiasis / economics*
  • Elephantiasis / epidemiology
  • Elephantiasis / therapy
  • Endemic Diseases / economics
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Fees and Charges
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Health
  • Sex Distribution
  • Urban Health