Two vector-borne diseases, chikungunya and dengue, cost an estimated ‘burden’ of 1.4 billion U.S. dollars for India per year, according to a latest national level study undertaken by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, through its Centre for Management of Health Services (CMHS).

The findings of the study are soon going to be published in the dengue bulletin of the World Health Organisation and this was for the first time that the cost has been quantified through a scientific evaluation, S. S. Vasan, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Oxford, said on Friday.

Speaking to The Hindu in Madurai, he said the estimated cost of 1.4 billion dollars includes treatment, wage loss, doctor fees, productivity impact, hospitalisation and the expenses incurred by the family members of the affected persons who visit hospitals.

“The study was led by Dileep Mavalankar of CMHS situated in IIM-Ahmedabad, and the conclusions came early this year. It was also a multi-country study that covered U.S., U.K., Malaysia and other countries,” Dr. Vasan, who was one of the co-investigators in this project, said.

He informed that the estimated cost aspects for India due to the prevalence of chikungunya and dengue cases took into account both reported and unreported cases also.

“The money people have been spending on mosquito coils and the funds utilised by the government for vector control activities like fogging, were also included to arrive at the total cost for India,” Dr. Vasan said.

Five States

Stating that the burden is immense for India because of chikungunya and dengue every year, he said that 90 per cent of the burden cost was attributed to five States including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

Dr. Vasan, who is also the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Oxitec, a company that promotes the technology/inventions made at the Oxford University, was in the city to participate in the third conference on

‘Medical Arthropodology’, organised by the Centre for Research in Medical Entomology (CRME), a laboratory of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Mathematical model

Earlier, he delivered a lecture explaining the newly developed mathematical model to study the flight/distance covered by mosquitoes and what terrain conditions that suit them most.

“There are around 3,500 mosquito species and not all of them are our enemies. The mosquitoes that cause immense burden to us in cost and health factors must be studied scientifically,” Dr. Vasan observed.

The two-day CRME conference is attended by nearly 100 scientists/entomologists form various places and it focused on the theme ‘Integrated Disease Vector Management-Operational Research.’