Assessing the effects of disease-specific programs on health systems: An analysis of the Bangladesh Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program's impacts on health service coverage and catastrophic health expenditure

  • Authors: Koporc KM Hotchkiss DR Stoecker CF McFarland DA Carton T.
  • Category: Health Service


This study presents a methodology for using tracer indicators to measure the effects of disease-specific programs on national health systems. The methodology is then used to analyze the effects of Bangladesh’s Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program, a disease-specific program, on the health system. Using difference-in-differences models and secondary data from population-based household surveys, this study compares changes over time in the utilization rates of eight essential health services and incidences of catastrophic health expenditures between individuals and households, respectively, of lymphatic filariasis hyper-endemic districts (treatment districts) and of hypo- and non-endemic districts (control districts). Utilization of all health services increased from year 2000 to year 2014 for the entire population but more so for the population living in treatment districts. However, when the services were analyzed individually, the difference-in-differences between the two populations was insignificant. Disadvantaged populations (i.e., populations that lived in rural areas, belonged to lower wealth quintiles, or did not attend school) were less likely to access essential health services. After five years of program interventions, households in control districts had a lower incidence of catastrophic health expenditures at several thresholds measured using total household expenditures and total non-food expenditures as denominators. Using essential health service coverage rates as outcome measures, the Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program cannot be said to have strengthened or weakened the health system. We can also say that there is a positive association between the Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program’s interventions and lowered incidence of catastrophic health expenditures.