News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Swine flu pandemic expensive for NZ


Swine flu pandemic expensive for NZ


A new study estimates the total cost to the New Zealand hospital sector of the 2009 ‘swine flu’ pandemic at around $31 million. The University of Otago, Wellington researchers estimate that given the uncertainties in the data, the range for this cost was $22 to $40 million.

They also report that the true cost of the H1N1 pandemic to the New Zealand health system would be substantially higher as this study looked only at hospitals, and not primary care and public health services.

The lead author, Associate Professor Nick Wilson says: “This influenza pandemic was relatively mild compared to previous ones such as in 1918 which killed over 8500 New Zealanders.”

“But even so the 2009 H1N1 pandemic killed 49 people, sent 1122 people to hospital and 102 were so sick that they needed intensive care unit (ICU) treatment.”

“In the wider community, a 2009 survey using blood samples found that 18% of the population had evidence of infection from the pandemic strain.”

The study reported that the average cost for those going to hospital with pandemic influenza was $17,000 per person with an average stay of six days. For those going to an ICU it was $97,000 per person for an average stay of 12 days.

The study, just published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, also estimated the cost-effectiveness of providing modern hospital care at around $155,000 per life saved from pandemic influenza.

“This is very good value for money, especially since some of the lives saved were young people who would otherwise have lost many years of future life,” says Dr Wilson.

But he noted that this particular estimate was relatively hypothetical given that for mild pandemics hospital care for all who need it is likely to be available in New Zealand. “However, in some future pandemic scenarios hospital services could be overwhelmed and so the death rate could shoot up with people dying at home”.

Another point made by the authors was that a really thorough “full societal costing” study would also include such costs as lower work place productivity and missed time at school because of illness. Premature death in younger adults also removes people from the workforce and so has economic costs.

“Nevertheless, the high cost estimates from just hospital care alone in this study indicate the potential value of further work on preventive measures, such as influenza vaccination, and of investing in pandemic planning and other control measures,” says co-author Associate Professor Michael Baker.

Dr Baker also says that given the sudden and unpredictable nature of such pandemics, there is a strong case for further study of the true costs so as to inform better pandemic planning and preventive measures.

In the same issue of the journal, the University of Otago researchers published a second study analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the health sector response to this pandemic. It found there was evidence for a successful overall response by the public health, primary care and hospital sectors.

Nevertheless, the authors identify a number of likely weaknesses in the response. These include a lack of a detailed review of the overall response and a lack of analytic studies to identify risk factors for hospitalisation and death. There were a lack of studies on pandemic vaccine uptake and public acceptability of this vaccine, and the effectiveness of health protection messages used in mass media campaigns.

“Unfortunately the government didn’t commission any comprehensive review of the response to the 2009 pandemic and the lessons learnt. This is clearly an oversight, given that future pandemics are certain to occur. Governments need to be a bit smarter about doing reviews of disaster response. They should not just commission reviews of disasters where it was obvious that things went badly wrong – like the Pike River Mine,” Dr Wilson says.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Scoop Review Of Books: From Here And There

Being Chinese: A New Zealander’s Story
by Helene Wong.
This is the fascinating story of Helene Wong, born in 1949 in Taihape to Chinese parents: her mother, born soon after her parents migrated here, and her father, born in China but sent to relatives in Taihape at seven to get an education in English. More>>

Chiku: Hamilton Zoo's Baby Chimpanzee Named

Hamilton Zoo has named its three-month-old baby chimpanzee after a month-long public naming competition through the popular zoo’s website. The name chosen is Chiku, a Swahili name for girls meaning "talker" or "one who chatters". More>>

Game Over: Trans-Tasman Netball League To Discontinue

Netball Australia and Netball New Zealand have confirmed that the existing ANZ Championship format will discontinue after the current 2016 season, with both organisations to form national netball leagues in their respective countries. More>>

NZSO Review: Stephen Hough Is Perfection-Plus

He took risks, and leant into the music when required. But you also felt that every moment of his playing made sense in the wider picture of the piece. Playing alongside him, the NZSO were wonderful as ever, and their guest conductor, Gustavo Gimeno, coaxed from them a slightly darker, edgier sound than I’m used to hearing. More>>

ALSO:

Howard Davis Review: King Lear At Circa

In order to celebrate it's 40th birthday, it is perhaps fitting that Circa Theatre should pick a production of 'King Lear,' since it's also somewhat fortuitously Shakespeare's 400th anniversary. If some of the more cerebral poetry is lost in Michael Hurst's streamlined, full throttle production, it's more than made up for by plenty of lascivious violence designed to entertain the groundlings. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Tauranga Books Festival

Escape to Tauranga for Queen’s Birthday weekend and an ideas and books-focused festival that includes performance, discussion, story-telling, workshops and an Italian-theme morning tea. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news