BACKGROUND: Little is known about the cost recovery of primary health care facilities in Bangladesh. This study estimated the cost recovery of a primary health care facility run by Building Resources Across Community (BRAC), a large NGO in Bangladesh, for the period of July 2004 - June 2005. This health facility is one of the seven upgraded BRAC facilities providing emergency obstetric care and is typical of the government and private primary health care facilities in Bangladesh. Given the current maternal and child mortality in Bangladesh and the challenges to addressing health-related Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets the financial sustainability of such facilities is crucial.
METHODS: The study was designed as a case study covering a single facility. The methodology was based on the 'ingredient approach' using the allocation techniques by inpatient and outpatient services. Cost recovery of the facility was estimated from the provider's perspective. The value of capital items was annualized using 5% discount rate and its market price of 2004 (replacement value). Sensitivity analysis was done using 3% discount rate.
RESULTS: The cost recovery ratio of the BRAC primary care facility was 59%, and if excluding all capital costs, it increased to 72%. Of the total costs, 32% was for personnel while drugs absorbed 18%. Capital items were17% of total costs while operational cost absorbed 12%. Three-quarters of the total cost was variable costs. Inpatient services contributed 74% of total revenue in exchange of 10% of total utilization. An average cost per patient was US$ 10 while it was US$ 67 for inpatient and US$ 4 for outpatient.
CONCLUSION: The cost recovery of this NGO primary care facility is important for increasing its financial sustainability and decreasing donor dependency, and achieving universal health coverage in a developing country setting. However, for improving the cost recovery of the health facility, it needs to increase utilization, efficient planning, resource allocation and their optimum use. It also requires controlling variable costs and preventing any wastage of resources.