d) Health Economics
AU : Nagpaul DR & Vishwanath MK
TI : Economics of health.
SO : Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases Workers Conference, 22nd, Hyderabad, India, 3-6 Feb 1967, p. 277-300.
AB :

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 the household.