Economic cost of tobacco-related cancers in Sri Lanka

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IntroductionCancer has a high mortality rate and morbidity burden in Sri Lanka. This study estimated the economic cost of smoking and smokeless tobacco (ST) related to cancers in Sri Lanka in 2015.MethodsPrevalence-based cost of illness is calculated according to the guidelines of the WHO (2011). The direct costs are costs of curative care (costs of inward patients and outpatient care borne by the state and out of pocket expenditure by households) for tobacco-related cancers, weighted by the attributable fractions for these cancers. Indirect costs are lost earnings due to mortality and morbidity (absenteeism of both patient and carers resulting from seeking care and recuperation).Data were obtained from the Registrar General’s Department, National Cancer Registry, Department of Census and Statistics and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Household and systemic costs and relative risks were extracted from research studies. Oncologists (working in both public and private sectors), other clinical specialists, medical administrators and economists were consulted during the estimation and validation processes.ResultsThe total economic cost of tobacco-related cancers for Sri Lanka in 2015 was estimated to be US$121.2 million. The direct cost of smoking and ST-related cancers was US$42.1 million, which was 35% of the total cost, while the indirect cost was US$79.1 million, which was 65% of the total cost.ConclusionBurden of tobacco smoking and ST-related cancers as reflected in these economic costs is enormous: affecting the healthcare system and country’s economy. Policymakers should take note of this burden and address tobacco consumption control as a priority.

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