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Monday, October 1, 2007
In 2005, the estimated losses to national income from diseases like heart ailments, stroke, and diabetes were a staggering $9 billion. In the next 10 years, according to the newspaper sources, India may lose as much as $200 billion due to employee sickness.
Due to illnesses in their workforces, some firms are already losing about 14 percent of their annual working days, more than 51 days in a year. Though India is home to nearly 600 million youngsters, double the total population of the U.S., the per-capita government health expenditure is one of the lowest in the world, at a dismal $7 against $2,548 in the U.S.

According to a study done by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) on ‘Impact of Preventive Healthcare on Indian Industry and Economy’ across 15 states, 12 percent of blue-collar workers are at high risk of getting a debilitating disease compared to four percent of the medium and senior-level employees.
The study also reveals that nearly 71 percent of the employees and 82 percent of CEOs were overweight. In addition, 48 percent of the employees and 69 percent of CEOs were physically unfit.

The impact of staff sickness is reflected in man-days lost. The ICRIER survey shows almost a quarter of the firms lose approximately 50 man-days in a year due to sickness. Another 34 percent lose 10-50 man-days. To mitigate the cost, two-thirds of respondents have introduced preventive healthcare. However, less than one third make a provision for the whole range of preventive healthcare measures.

The report also suggests a well-designed employee wellness program could lead to 25 percent reduction in the firms’ health plan costs, sick leave, disability pay, and workers’ compensation. Reducing just one health risk increases an employee’s productivity by nine percent.

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