||Nagpaul DR & Vishwanath MK
||Economics of health.
||Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases Workers Conference,
22nd, Hyderabad, India, 3-6 Feb 1967, p. 277-300.
Health has been defined as the state of perfect
physical, social and mental well-being which is somewhat of an abstract
definition. In this paper, economics of health is measured through
economics of sickness. Because sickness is experienced, it can be
measured and it inflicts physical, social and economic sufferings.
In a community, economic prosperity is directly dependent on quantum
of sickness and its prevention by health services. A sociological
enquiry into the part played by disease in the socio-economic development
of society was made by carrying out a study in two village population
groups. The Social Investigators of NTI made deep, probing questions
to elicit presence of symptoms, action taken by them, money spent
on treatment and the loss of wages. In the first study, observation-participation
technique was adopted. The investigators lived in the village for
four months. In the second study, 20% households of those 22 villages
which participated earlier in an epidemiological survey conducted
by NTI, were interviewed.
Findings of the two studies are combined and presented.
Illnesses were classified into major and minor on the basis of clinical
severity and the duration of symptoms. In both the studies, 60%
of all persons were asymptomatic during 2 months prior to the interview.
About 18% had one minor illness, 13% had major illness and only
3% had one major and one minor illness. The quantum of multiple
disease (3 or more) occurring in one person was less than 2%. Only
20% of living man-days were spent as sick man-days. The average
annual loss on account of health reasons per family has been estimated
to be Rs.90/- and Rs.15/- per capita. The overall economic loss
due to sickness, direct and indirect amounted to 3% of the per capita
income in the poorer groups of villages and 6% in the economically
more favourably placed villages. The material available here strongly
suggests that the sizes of households will not have much influence
over the sickness in the community. Another significant feature
of this study was the phenomenon of substitution within the family
whenever the wage earner could not go to work. The evidence examined
in this paper suggests that the actual economic loss is only 1/3rd
of the calculated loss. It also suggests that the overall cost of
sickness to the individuals and family is far less than what is
normally calculated and is influenced by the money available in
|KEYWORDS: HEALTH ECONOMICS; SOCIAL COST; INDIA.