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Study economic impact of A(H1N1): Expert

KUALA LUMPUR, 18 Aug 2009: Companies, government departments, agencies, industries and other businesses should start to evaluate any economic impact brought on by the Influenza A(H1N1) outbreak.

Dr Michael Mitakidis, medical director for International SOS Global Medical Services South and Southeast Asia, said besides assessment of medical and health policy, it would be useful to evaluate possible economic impact as a result of the pandemic.

He said based on their corporate case studies and surveys, together with global pandemic data, it was estimated that the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would see a huge drop.

“Under reasonable assumptions on infection and death rates (30% and 0.4% respectively of the total global population) … [as well as] responses by households and businesses to the pandemic, we estimate that the world GDP would be cut by more than US$2.5 trillion or 3.5% of the 2009 GDP,” said the Singapore-based Mitakidis. 

He was presenting a paper on Business Continuity Planning Lessons from 2009 Influenza A(H1N1) at the 3rd Annual Series-Asia Healthcare 2009, organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute here today.

International SOS is the world’s leading provider of medical assistance, international healthcare, security services and outsourced customer care, with operations in 70 countries. It helps organisations manage the health and safety risks facing travellers, global workforce and customers.

Mitakidis, who has wide experience in hospital and doctor service quality issues, said in counting the economic cost of a pandemic, organisations should look into human resources, loss of income, as well as insurance- and travel-related costs. On healthcare, aspects to be looked into, among others, relate to medication, admission to hospitals, and specialist service costs.

He said there were bound to be cases of employees on medical leave, as well as absentees and inability to work overtime, which would have a possible economic impact.

Mitakidis pointed out that a company in Vietnam had recorded an absentee rate of 40% of its total workforce for a duration of about 10 days, which he said would have a huge economic impact on the company.

He also suggested that a pandemic information service, updates, bulletins and alerts be created so that employees could be better informed about pandemic preparedness, and be provided with daily round-up of the global situation and other related developments. — Bernama

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