The Hidden Health and Economic Burden of Rotavirus Gastroenteritis in Malaysia: An Estimation Using Multiple Data Sources

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Abstract

Background:

Rotavirus gastroenteritis (RVGE) results in substantial mortality and morbidity worldwide. However, an accurate estimation of the health and economic burden of RVGE in Malaysia covering public, private and home treatment is lacking.

Methods:

Data from multiple sources were used to estimate diarrheal mortality and morbidity according to health service utilization. The proportion of this burden attributable to rotavirus was estimated from a community-based study and a meta-analysis we conducted of primary hospital-based studies. Rotavirus incidence was determined by multiplying acute gastroenteritis incidence with estimates of the proportion of gastroenteritis attributable to rotavirus. The economic burden of rotavirus disease was estimated from the health systems and societal perspective.

Results:

Annually, rotavirus results in 27 deaths, 31,000 hospitalizations, 41,000 outpatient visits and 145,000 episodes of home-treated gastroenteritis in Malaysia. We estimate an annual rotavirus incidence of 1 death per 100,000 children and 12 hospitalizations, 16 outpatient clinic visits and 57 home-treated episodes per 1000 children under-5 years. Annually, RVGE is estimated to cost US$ 34 million to the healthcare provider and US$ 50 million to society. Productivity loss contributes almost a third of costs to society. Publicly, privately and home-treated episodes consist of 52%, 27% and 21%, respectively, of the total societal costs.

Conclusions:

RVGE represents a considerable health and economic burden in Malaysia. Much of the burden lies in privately or home-treated episodes and is poorly captured in previous studies. This study provides vital information for future evaluation of cost–effectiveness, which are necessary for policy-making regarding universal vaccination.

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