BackgroundThe COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound health, economic, and social disruptions globally. We assessed the full costs of hospitalization for COVID-19 disease at Ekka Kotebe COVID-19 treatment center in Addis Ababa, the largest hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patient care in Ethiopia.
Methods and findingsWe retrospectively collected and analysed clinical and cost data on patients admitted to Ekka Kotebe with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infections. Cost data included personnel time and salaries, drugs, medical supplies and equipment, facility utilities, and capital costs. Facility medical records were reviewed to assess the average duration of stay by disease severity (either moderate, severe, or critical). The data collected covered the time-period March-November 2020. We then estimated the cost per treated COVID-19 episode, stratified by disease severity, from the perspective of the provider. Over the study period there were 2,543 COVID-19 cases treated at Ekka Kotebe, of which, 235 were critical, 515 were severe, and 1,841 were moderate. The mean patient duration of stay varied from 9.2 days (95% CI: 7.6-10.9; for moderate cases) to 19.2 days (17.9-20.6; for critical cases). The mean cost per treated episode was USD 1,473 (95% CI: 1,197-1,750), but cost varied by disease severity: the mean cost for moderate, severe, and critical cases were USD 1,266 (998-1,534), USD 1,545 (1,413-1,677), and USD 2,637 (1,788-3,486), respectively.
ConclusionsClinical management and treatment of COVID-19 patients poses an enormous economic burden to the Ethiopian health system. Such estimates of COVID-19 treatment costs inform financial implications for resource-constrained health systems and reinforce the urgency of implementing effective infection prevention and control policies, including the rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, in low-income countries like Ethiopia.