Expanding access to primary care without additional budgets? A case study from Burkina Faso

Eur J Health Econ. 2008 Nov;9(4):393-403. doi: 10.1007/s10198-007-0095-9. Epub 2008 Jan 16.


The aim of this study is to demonstrate the impact of increased access to primary care on provider costs in the rural health district of Nouna, Burkina Faso. This study question is crucial for health care planning in this district, as other research work shows that the population has a higher need for health care services. From a public health perspective, an increase of utilisation of first-line health facilities would be necessary. However, the governmental budget that is needed to finance improved access was not known. The study is based on data of 2004 of a comprehensive provider cost information system. This database provides us with the actual costs of each primary health care facility (Centre de Santé et de Promotion Sociale, CSPS) in the health district. We determine the fixed and variable costs of each institution and calculate the average cost per service unit rendered in 2004. Based on the cost structure of each CSPS, we calculate the total costs if the demand for health care services increased. We conclude that the total provider costs of primary care (and therefore the governmental budget) would hardly rise if the coverage of the population were increased. This is mainly due to the fact that the highest variable costs are drugs, which are fully paid for by the customers (Bamako Initiative). The majority of other costs are fixed. Consequently, health care reforms that improve access to health care institutions must not fear dramatically increasing the costs of health care services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Burkina Faso
  • Health Care Costs
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / economics*
  • Humans
  • Pharmacies / economics
  • Primary Health Care / economics*