The economic burden of road traffic injuries on households in South Asia

Khurshid Alam, Ajay Mahal

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Globally, road traffic injuries accounted for about 1.36 million deaths in 2015 and are projected to become the fourth leading cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost by 2030. One-fifth of these deaths occurred in South Asia where road traffic injuries are projected to increase by 144% by 2020. Despite this rapidly increasing disease burden there is limited evidence on the economic burden of road traffic injuries on households in South Asia. We applied a novel coarsened exact matching method to assess the household economic burden of road traffic injuries using nationally representative World Health Survey data from five South Asian countries-Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka collected during 2002-2003. We examined the impact of road traffic injuries on household out-of-pocket (OOP) health spending, household non-medical consumption expenditure and the employment status of the traffic injury-affected respondent. We exactly matched a household (after "coarsening') where a respondent reported being involved in a road traffic injury to households where the respondent did not report a road traffic injury on each of multiple observed household characteristics. Our analysis found that road traffic injury-affected households had significantly higher levels of OOP health spending per member (I$0.75, p<0.01), higher OOP spending on drugs per member (I$0.30, p = 0.03), and higher OOP hospital spending per member (I$0.29, p<0.01) in the four weeks preceding the survey. Indicators of 'catastrophic spending' were also significantly higher in road traffic injuryaffected households: 6.45% (p<0.01) for a threshold of OOP health spending to total household spending ratio of 20%, and 7.40% (p<0.01) for a threshold of OOP health spending to household 'capacity to pay' ratio of 40%. However, no statistically significant effects were observed for household non-medical consumption expenditure, and employment status of the road traffic injury-affected individual. Our analysis points to the need for financial risk protection against the road traffic injury-related OOP health expenditure and a focus on prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0164362
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

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