Dengue’s Economic and Labor Impact in Brazil

As Brazil faces a new epidemic of dengue fever, the impact on the country’s economy and workforce is becoming increasingly evident. The Ministry of Health’s Arbovirus Monitoring Panel reports a dengue incidence rate of 757.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, indicating a significant public health challenge.

a mosquito is sitting on a leaf with its legs spread
Photo by Franklin Santillan A. on

Economic Impact

The economic repercussions of the dengue epidemic are substantial. A study by the Federation of Industries of Minas Gerais (Fiemg) estimated that an epidemic of dengue, Zika, and chikungunya in 2024 could cost the Brazilian economy R$ 20.3 billion ($4.06 billion). This figure includes R$ 15.1 billion ($3.02 billion) attributed to productivity losses and R$ 5.2 billion ($1.04 billion) to healthcare costs. The epidemic could also result in the loss of 214,735 jobs, further straining the economy.

Workforce Consequences

The disease’s toll on the workforce is multifaceted. Employees suffering from dengue may be unable to work, varying with the severity of the illness and the individual’s overall health. For absences up to 15 days, employees are compensated by their company. Beyond that, they may apply for temporary incapacity benefits from the National Social Security Institute (INSS), previously known as sickness allowance.

Governmental Challenges

The epidemic poses a significant burden on the government. All associated costs, including social security benefits and increased demand on the public healthcare system, fall on the state. This situation exacerbates the strain on the already stretched resources of the Unified Health System (SUS), leading to longer wait times and service delays.

Long-Term Effects on Workers

While most individuals recover from dengue within ten days, some may suffer long-term effects, particularly related to motor skills, preventing them from returning to work. In such cases, they may be granted temporary disability leave until recovery. If the impairment is permanent, they might be eligible for Accident Aid or permanent disability retirement, contingent on a medical examination.