Thursday, 18 June 2015

Illness and its impact on Rwandan companies

The Great Lakes region faces higher burdens of malaria and other tropical diseases than developed countries.  Although it didn't reach the same prevalence as in Southern Africa, HIV has also been a major health concern.  The effect on companies could be severe, causing employees to take time off for their own illnesses or to care for other people.

Here is what senior managers in Rwanda said in 2011 about the burden of illness over the previous three years:

Source: World Bank Enterprise Surveys

The figures have some subjectivity - "high absenteeism" may be assessed differently by managers, employees, and neutral observers - so are possibly higher than either employees or neutral observers would think.   One in ten senior managers think that illness causes high rates of absenteeism, and a similar number believe that caring duties lead to frequent absences.  For absences linked to HIV, the numbers are much lower at around one in fifty managers.  There are a lot of people who say they don't know whether HIV leads to high absenteeism, and people may not reveal (or know) whether their illness is related to HIV.  So the numbers for HIV are plausibly understated.

Overall, the rates of sickness absence are not very high, but still indicate that illnesses hinder Rwandan corporate performance.

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