Infections hits the poor the hardest: CII

Updated on Mar 22, 2011 12:41 AM IST

Unskilled workers are the hardest hit by infectious diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in India, with industries such as construction, chemicals, mining, quarrying, capital goods and textiles being the hardest hit, says a new Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report. Sanchita Sharma reports.

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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

Unskilled workers are the hardest hit by infectious diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in India, with industries such as construction, chemicals, mining, quarrying, capital goods and textiles being the hardest hit, says a new Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report.

The double whammy of medical bills and loss of wages drives many families to poverty, shows a study across 28 sectors that includes agriculture, 16 industrialised sectors and 11 service providing sectors, reports a CII review of the socio-economic impact of these three major infections in nine countries in South and West Asia.

Between them, these countries -- India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – are home to over 1.5 billion people, which is roughly one-fourth of the world’s population.

The report –- called Socio-economic Impact of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and GFATM /related Programmes -- assesses the benefits of Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM)-sponsored interventions in these nine countries.

Since 2002, the GFATM has saved 6.5 million lives by committing USD 21.7 billion to help 150 countries fight these killer infections by putting 3 million people on AIDS drugs and distributing 160 million insecticide-treated nets for malaria prevention, among other measures.

In India, 1.8 million people get infected with tuberculosis each year, 1.5 million get malaria each year and 2.4 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

GFATM has committed USD 1 billion to India.

“According to the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, countries with intensive malaria have 33% less growth, with the infection affecting annual economic growth between 1965 and 1990 by an average 0.4% of the GDP per capita, compared with 2.3% in the rest of the world,” said a CII official, who worked on the report.

Tuberculosis lowers household incomes by 20%-30% annually, with the financial losses being over US$ 6 million per year in the South-East Asia region.

“Direct cost of medical bills and indirect cost of lost wages and productivity hit the poor the hardest. Countries cannot look at diseases as a health issue any more because each infection has an economic cost, which hits individuals and countries equally,” said Andrew Hurst, spokesperson, GFATM, in Geneva.

Hitting where it hurts

Three killer infections impact the poor the most in nine countries -- India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- in south and west Asia, which are home to 1.5 billion

Tuberculosis

World: 6 million cases
South and west Asia: 2.7 million new infections each year
India: 1.8 million

Malaria

World: 247 million new infections each year
South and west Asia: 1.7 million new infections each year
India: 1.5 million new infections

AIDS

World: 33.3 million people currently living with HIV and AIDS
South and west Asia: 3.5 million
India: 2.4 million

Source:Global Fund for Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, CII

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sanchita is the health & science editor of the Hindustan Times. She has been reporting and writing on public health policy, health and nutrition for close to two decades. She is an International Reporting Project fellow from Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and was part of the expert group that drafted the Press Council of India’s media guidelines on health reporting, including reporting on people living with HIV.

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