Background: This paper assesses the burden of non-fatal chronic non-communicable diseases on households in the midst of a paradigm change in Ghana's health policy that shifts healthcare costs to persons and households.
Method: Using data on 4,121 households from the World Health Survey for Ghana 2003, measures of direct and indirect burden of chronic diseases at the household level are constructed and assessed using bivariate and multivariate analyses.
Result: About 18% of the respondents indicated they had been diagnosed with one or more NCDs with 45% of them currently receiving treatment. About 11% of the respondents currently receiving treatment are living with more than one NCD condition, 7 in 10 of whom belong to households in the middle and higher income quintiles. Female respondents are more likely to report having NCDs, and the odds that a respondent would currently have NCDs increases with age and household income quintile. Mean healthcare expenditure for households with respondent currently living with NCDs is 49% higher than households with healthier respondents.
Conclusion: The relatively high direct cost of illness among households with person(s) living with NCDs and the associated high indirect burden of illness places undue stress on households. Research requires better measurement of the indirect burden with focus on the household. These findings suggest the necessity of interventions at the national and community levels that focus on households providing care and support to persons living with NCDs.
Keywords: Ghana; Household disease burden; burden of disease; chronic disease.