TOP company executives have been asked to pay attention to the wellbeing of their workers because death and illness are exacting a heavy toll on the medical sector and on businesses also.
As well, they have been asked to take seriously the issue of non-communicable diseases because they come with a heavy price, with 82 per cent of NCD deaths involving those between the ages of 35 and 59.
"Some as young as 28," said BSP Life managing director Malakai Naiyaga while addressing the two-day TOPEX conference that ended on Saturday.
"Ministry of Health statistics reveal an alarming increase in serious conditions and deaths as a result of NCDs, for example, 800 diabetes amputations per annum," he said.
Speaking on the topic Mitigating Risks — a life insurance perspective, Mr Naiyaga said people were usually disregarded as risks in themselves.
"This is a mistake that corporates make and leads to corporate collapses," he said.
"People are your most important asset."
Mr Naiyaga said because of the costs and the question of affordability, BSP Life was pursuing evacuations to India aggressively as opposed to Australia and New Zealand. India, he said was cheaper and the quality of services and facilities were first class.
Mr Naiyaga also encouraged business leaders to plan for mitigating risks that could arise out of succession planning, people retention, and competitive pressure for good people.
Plans to retain key workers could include the life and medical insurance where workers pay from their wages.
"Your staff and your communities need security for themselves and their families
"Approximately 85 per cent of our people do not have any form of life insurance. As a percentage of income earners, it represents an estimated 40 per cent coverage."
Mr Naiyaga said encouraging employees to save was also important in preparing them for the unexpected, citing the example of changes that led to civil servants retiring at 55 years.
With the presentation generating discussions on the affordability of premiums and evacuation, Fiji National University vice-chancellor Dr Ganesh Chand suggested it was time the country focused on a quality tertiary health facility.
While the lack of and absence of specialists and diagnostic equipment was pointed out, there was general agreement that to retain the millions spent annually on evacuation, practical solutions must be developed in which short to medium-term plans are developed to address the issue of treating people locally.