Background: Data on influenza economic burden in risk groups for severe influenza are important to guide targeted influenza immunization, especially in resource-limited settings. However, this information is limited in low- and middle-income countries.
Methods: We estimated the cost (from a health system and societal perspective) and years of life lost (YLL) for influenza-associated illness in South Africa during 2013-2015 among (i) children aged 6-59 months, (ii) individuals aged 5-64 years with HIV, pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) and selected underlying medical conditions (UMC), separately, (iii) pregnant women and (iv) individuals aged ≥65 years, using publicly available data and data collected through laboratory-confirmed influenza surveillance and costing studies. All costs were expressed in 2015 prices using the South Africa all-items Consumer Price Index.
Results: During 2013-2015, the mean annual cost of influenza-associated illness among the selected risk groups accounted for 52.1% ($140.9/$270.5 million) of the total influenza-associated illness cost (for the entire population of South Africa), 45.2% ($52.2/$115.5 million) of non-medically attended illness costs, 43.3% ($46.7/$107.9 million) of medically-attended mild illness costs and 89.3% ($42.0/$47.1 million) of medically-attended severe illness costs. The YLL among the selected risk groups accounted for 86.0% (262,069 /304,867 years) of the total YLL due to influenza-associated death.
Conclusion: In South Africa, individuals in risk groups for severe influenza accounted for approximately half of the total influenza-associated illness cost but most of the cost of influenza-associated medically attended severe illness and YLL. This study provides the foundation for future studies on the cost-effectiveness of influenza immunization among risk groups.
Keywords: Economic burden; Influenza; Risk groups; South Africa; Years of life lost.
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