The Rising Influenza Cases and the Issue with “Affordable” Healthcare
Rina Kitazawa and Natsuki Uchino

Are you aware of the rising Influenza cases and the access to affordable healthcare or lack thereof around the world? 

Influenza, also commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus that poses mild to severe illness, in worst cases possibly leading to death. While influenza viruses spread year-round, flu activity is most prevalent between December and February globally. 

The recent announcements regarding the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry, Japan has officially entered the influenza outbreak season for the first time in three years. This severe sudden flu outbreak is not only within Japan but is also concurrent worldwide. Due to this, vaccines and other recommended medicinal treatments for influenza (such as Tamiflu) have significantly increased in demand. However, this viral outbreak causes inequity issues to arise, especially for those who are unable to acquire these healthcare services. 

Tamiflu is amongst the most globally recommended prescription drugs for individuals who aim to treat the flu. In most cases, the prescription prices are covered by 68% with insurance plans incorporated. Without an insurance copay, Tamiflu prices can vary between $135 to $250 depending on different pharmacies. For example, at CVS, the average cost of Tamiflu without insurance is $115.50. Where 10 capsules of 30mg are $109, 10 capsules of 45mg are $109, 10 capsules of 75mg are $122, and 60 ml of 6mg/ml is $122. Moreover, in 2020, the average expenditures for health insurance nationwide in the United States differs between various premiums monthly. It is approximately $7,739 for an individual and $22,221 for a family as of 2021. 

Healthcare and treatments for influenza can even be unattainable, especially for those residing in developing countries. Sub-Saharan African countries have a multitude of those who have limited access to healthcare and rehabilitation care. This, combined with chronic poverty, low education, and inadequately trained healthcare professionals, substantially decreases the quality of people’s lives. 

The main objective of this scoping review was to discover the barriers and facilitators to healthcare access for CwDs in selected low to middle-income Sub-Saharan African countries. As African countries significantly vary in socioeconomic status, those who live in Sub-Saharan Africa are allocated less than $50/per person to healthcare. Therefore, there is limited access to healthcare services in low and middle-income Sub-Saharan African countries due to poverty, low education, inadequate healthcare systems, and a shortage of healthcare professionals. It is evident that there are socioeconomic, cultural, and physical related impediments that affect opportunities in which Influenza treatments are available. 

Overall, health disparities refer to differences in health outcomes between social groups, and they persist in all modern public health settings. This may be the result of health inequalities, which are caused by biological or cultural variations, or by health inequities, which are driven by unfair factors and are avoidable with policy action. There is extensive evidence that social factors, including education, employment, income, race, and ethnicity have a distinct influence on how healthy a person is: the lower an individual’s socioeconomic position, the higher their risk of poor health for both chronic and infectious diseases in low, middle, and high-income settings alike.

 

Works Cited

Boyles, Salynn. “CDC: Poverty Linked to Poor Flu Outcomes.” Medpagetoday.com. MedpageToday, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2023. <www.medpagetoday.com/pulmonology/uristheflu/56157>. 

Corso, Alyssa. “How Much Does Tamiflu Cost in 2021?” Talktomira.com. Mira, 11 Nov. 2020. Web. 20 Feb. 2023. 

www.talktomira.com/post/how-much-does-tamiflu-cost-with-or-without-insurance

Dattani Saloni. "Here's all you need to know on the flu around the world." World Economic Forum. 27 Oct. 2022. Web. 

21 Feb. 2023. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/10/flu-around-the-world-health-what-you-need-to-know/ 

Holden, Joe. “How Much Does Health Insurance Cost in the USA?” William Russell. N.p., Nov. 2021. Web. 21 Feb. 2023. <www.william-russell.com/blog/health-insurance-usa-cost/>. 

World. “Influenza (Seasonal).” Who.int. World Health Organization: WHO, 12 Jan. 2023. Web. 21 Feb. 2023. <www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)>. 

Author, No. “Flu Spreading Fast in Northeastern and Eastern Japan.” The Japan Times. N.p., 5 Jan. 2023. Web. 21 Feb. 2023. <www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/01/05/national/science-health/influenza-spread-tohoku-kanto-december/>. 

“Influenza | Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention | Britannica.” Encyclopædia Britannica 2023. Web. 21 Feb. 2023. <www.britannica.com/science/influenza>. 

 

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