A cost analysis of a stepdown antiretroviral programme at the KwaDukuza District Municipality Clinic in the Ilembe District in KwaZulu-Natal for the period 1st April 2005 to 31st March 2006.
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Introduction: While the antiretroviral (ARV) coverage has been scaled- up in the last 3 years in South Africa, there is limited data on the operating costs and financial sustainabihty of an anti- retroviral programme. Study Aim: To conduct a cost analysis of the stepdown ARV programme at the Kwadukuza Municipality Clinic (KMC) in the Ilembe district from a healthcare providers' perspective for the period 1st April 2005 to 31st March2006. Study Objectives: To determine the total costs and cost per patient per visit for outpatients attending the ARV, Wellness and VCT clinics respectively at KMC. Study Methods: Study location: This study was conducted at the Kwadukuza Municipality Clinic located in the Ilembe district in Kwazulu- Natal, South Africa. Study population: The population that is included in this study for the purposes of costing comprised: all the patients who received ARVs for the period under study; all the patients who attended the Wellness and VCT clinics and all the staff attached to the ARV programme at the KMC clinic Study design: This is a retrospective and cross- sectional study with both a descriptive and analytical component. Results: Seventy- one percent of the patients on ARVs were female with 50% of the patients being between 31 and 40 years of age. The total operating costs of running the ARV programme was R2 439 940- 90. The total cost accrued to the ARV clinic was R 1 698 003- 60. The Wellness clinic had a total cost of R 460 279- 68 and the VCT clinic accounted for the least total operating cost of R 281 657-77. The cost per patient visit was R440- 13 for the ARV clinic; R133- 05 for the VCT clinic and an amount of R61- 71 for the Wellness clinic. Conclusion This study provides the basis for determining the three cardinal cost components of the ARV programme, namely human resources, the cost of ARVs and the costs of viral load testing for the purposes of future planning and sustainability. The cost- effectiveness of ARV drugs can be improved if the healthcare providers negotiate a lower price for these drugs. The high cost due to monitoring tests can be lowered by decreasing the frequency of these tests but this may allow ARV drug resistance to be undetected.