India may lose $200Bn due to sick workers

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 13 September 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: In 2005, the estimated losses to national income from diseases like heart ailments, stroke and diabetes, was a staggering $9 billion.

In the next 10 years, India may lose more than $200 billion due to employee sickness reported The Times of India.

Due to illnesses in its workforce, some firms are already losing about 14 percent of their annual working days and more than 51 days in a year. According to Anbumani Ramadoss, Health Minister, India may lose its IT edge over others as employees in the sector are increasingly becoming prone to health hazards and a "dedicated health policy" would be formulated soon to tackle this.

India is home to nearly 600 million youngsters, double the total population of the U.S. However, the per-capita government health expenditure is one of the lowest in the world a dismal $7 against $2,548 in the US. In fact, public spending on health has stagnated at 0.9 percent of the GDP since the mid-1980s.

As per 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, showed that 12 percent of blue-collar workers were at high risk of getting a debilitating disease compared to 4 percent of the medium and senior-level employees.

The study also said that nearly 71 percent of the employees and 82 percent of CEOs were overweight. It had also found nearly 48 percent of the employees and 69 percent of CEOs were physically unfit.

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

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

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