The Impact of Malaria on Economic Development

A Case Study

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  • Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, Asunción, , Paraguay
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An attempt is being made to demonstrate concretely the economic impact which malaria has had on a group of about 300 farm families in Eastern Paraguay.

Families were chosen in eight clusters of approximately forty families each, in areas expected to have a high incidence of malaria during the early portion of the period of data collection. Field activities were carried on for 18 to 20 months, depending upon the area, August 1968 to June 1970. A national malaria eradication campaign was in preparatory phase and in the 9th month of data collection initiated DDT spraying in the areas under study, thus providing a relatively malaria transmission-free condition from the 11th month on.

Data concerning the health of all residents on the farms, and detailed information concerning all economic activities—farm work, non-farm work, harvests, sales, purchases, cattle and poultry owned—were registered at 2-week intervals for all farms, by personnel of the project resident in the eight localities under study.

Health information has been processed and shows that in 2 of the 8 areas there was high malaria incidence from August 1968 until June 1969, in 3 areas medium-high incidence, and in 3, very little. In the succeeding months, after DDT spraying, there was low to very low incidence in all areas. Of working time lost because of illness, 55% was due to malaria during the first 10 months, and 26% (of a much reduced total) in the remaining months.

Economic data are now being processed. Indicators to be investigated include days worked as per cent of available work-days; proportion of work done by children; proportion done by paid help; total value of harvests; division of harvest as between cash crops and subsistence crops; yield per hectare, per 1,000 plants sown, and per day of work done; hectares of land newly brought into production; maximum hectares cultivated during the crop year; number and condition of farm buildings and construction activities; numbers and changes in stocks of animals and poultry; non-farm work done; earnings from non-farm work, total and per day; division of expenditures between consumption and investment; total level of expenditures; total consumption including self-produced; total income; and various other relationships and series.

It is expected that the most fruitful approach will be the comparison of the performance of each farm during the later period with its own performance during the first 10 months (using equivalent months in the 2 crop years). As some families suffered from malaria heavily, others more lightly, and some not at all, this will permit comparisons among them. The techniques of linear multiple regression and analysis of variance will be applied.