Economic costs related to foodborne disease in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia in 2017
Foodborne diseases are a significant problem in low- and middle-income countries, especially in Africa.
Country-specific estimates of the economic costs related to foodborne diseases caused by different hazards in different food products can inform policymakers about the magnitude of the problem, enabling them to better prioritise actions to mitigate foodborne risks and prevent illness.
Although estimates of the costs of foodborne diseases exist for many high-income countries, they are lacking for African countries.
Therefore, a study was carried out to estimates economic costs in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia related to foodborne diseases caused by non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica, Campylobacter and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli in all foods, chicken meat and tomatoes. The World Health Organization’s estimates of foodborne disease burden, updated from 2010 to 2017, were used as a basis.
The study, published in Frontiers on Sustainable Food Systems (Aug 2023), was carried out as part of the Urban food markets in Africa: Incentivizing food safety using a pull-push approach project, led by the International Livestock Research Institute.
Economic cost estimates were the sum of estimates of willingness to pay to reduce risk of death and of pain and suffering, and lost productivity. Willingness to pay was based on value of statistical life and value of statistical life year, extrapolated from data from the United States of America. Sensitivity options were used to account for uncertainty in these values.
Mean economic costs related to foodborne disease caused by non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica, Campylobacter and enterotoxigenic E. coli in 2017 were estimated at 391 million constant 2017 international dollars in Burkina Faso and 723 million in Ethiopia. These costs represent 3.0% of gross national income in Burkina Faso and 0.9% in Ethiopia.
Lost productivity contributed 70%, willingness to pay to reduce risk of death 30%, and willingness to pay to reduce risk of pain and suffering 1-2%.
Non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica caused the highest costs, followed by enterotoxigenic E. coli and Campylobacter.
Chicken meat caused 9-12 times higher costs than tomatoes.
Children under five years of age (14.6–17.1% of populations) bore 20–75% of the costs.
Due to uncertainty in disease burden and economic data, costs could be four times higher than mean estimates.
Policies to control foodborne disease likely result in substantial benefits, especially efforts aiming at this study’s hazards in chicken meat and children under 5 years of age.
The authors of the study recommend further research efforts to reduce uncertainty in value of statistical life, value of statistical life year, and disease burden estimates; estimate costs for other countries; attribute costs to other food products and hazards; standardise estimation methodologies; and estimate treatment costs and illness prevention expenditures.
Wagenberg, C.P.A. van and Havelaar, A.H. 2023. Economic costs related to foodborne disease in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia in 2017. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 7: 1227430.