LASSA FEVER: IT’S IMPACT ON LIFE ASSURANCE PROFITABILITY

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ABSTRACT

The study evaluates the effects of Lassa fever on Life Assurance underwriting. What prompted the research into this topic is due to the important role played by Life Assurance on the economic development of the nation, which is being threatened by the Lassa virus. Other literatures related to the topic were reviewed for a broader and wider explanation of the Lassa virus, and also to know the opinion of other scholars on the topic and it was found that the source of the virus is rodents (the multimammate rats) found in homes and other human dwellings. In the course of the research it was discovered that the disease can be contracted by inhaling minute particles of it; through blood transfusion; broken skins (sores) etc. The research revealed that the Lassa virus does not really show any symptoms in most cases while in some others, there are usually a variety of complex symptoms which ranges from headache to vomit, diarrhea, etc. It was also discovered from the research that Lassa fever patients are usually not accepted, for Life Assurance. Data were collected for the purpose of the study via primary and secondary sources. The research design was scientific in nature. Questionnaires were administered to elicit information for the stated hypothesis, the answers gotten were analyzed in tables. Hypothesis stated earlier in chapter one was tested in chapter four for its validity using the chi-square statistical tool. Finally, the study was summarized, concluded and recommendations were made to enhance Lassa fever underwriting as well as treatment and prevention. Recommendations were made as follows; People should practice a proper self hygiene, cover and keep all food products properly, all food products coming into the country from other parts of the world should go through a proper quarantine test, underwriters should not reject Lassa fever risks but accepted as substandard and rated accordingly.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The infectious disease known as Lassa fever is caused by a virus that is native to West Africa, Lassa fever was first diagnosed in 1969 when two nurses on mission in Nigeria died from it, the newly discovered Lassa virus takes its name after the Nigeria town where the first diagnosis occurred. The Lassa virus comes from the family of viruses called Arenaviridae. Carried by animals, it is a Zoonotic RNA Virus with a single stand.

In parts of West Africa where Lassa fever is endemic, the disease is a considerable cause of mortality and morbidity. While approximately 80% of patients experience no symptoms or very mild symptoms the remaining percentage develop a complex mutlisystem illness. When Lassa fever is linked with an epidemic, the caused fatality rate may rise to nearly 50%.

Lassa fever is endemic to areas of West Africa. Cases have been reported in Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. As the virus is caused by various species of rodents through out West Africa, Lassa fever has a geographic range. All through the. region and potentially beyond. The reservoir of the Lassa virus is the multimammte rat from the genus mastomys. At Least two species of such rodents act as host to the virus in Sierra Leone. The rodents reproduce very quickly and often, creating large population that populate the forest and Savannah of East, Central and West Africa. Mastomys can colonize human establishment, Such factors make the transmission of the virus to humans relatively easy. It is estimated that there are anywhere between 100,000 to 300,000 individuals infected by the Lassa Virus each year. Approximately 5000 of such cases result in death, these results are not very reliable as Lassa Fever is neither regularly nor accurately surveyed in some parts of Africa. Parts of Sierra Leone and Liberia report that nearly 16% of the population in hospitals have Lassa

Fever, which gives a crude picture of the severity of the disease in the region, which can be seen as a threat to Life Assurance Underwriting firms as many deaths will result to many claims, paying those claims may be difficult at times which will in turn paint black the image of Life Assurance Underwriting firms. The aim of this research project is to investigate the extent of this effect.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Given the mortality and morbidity caused by the disease, it becomes a thing of worry to Life Assurance Underwriting firms. The image and reputation of Life Assurance underwriting firms cannot be left in the hands of the gravity and severity with which this disease takes human lives. The profit made on the investment fund cannot be compared to the profit made from life Assurance mortality.

And if the underwriting firms are not prudent in taking underwriting decisions the little mortality profit expected might turn out a huge loss to Life Assurance companies which may hinder paying further claims for other individuals, and that posses a threat to the reputation of the Insurance profession as not being sincere in claims payment.

1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of Lassa fever on Life Assurance profitability. Other specific aim to be accomplished includes:

  1. To know if lassa fever is a deadly disease
  2. To examine the symptom of lassa fever
  3. To assess if lassa fever is a contagious disease
  4. To identify the cure for lassa fever
  5. To assess the challenges of lassa
  6. fever on the underwriting profitability of life assurance companies
  7. To determine the impact of lassa fever underwriting on reputation of life assurance companies.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The following research questions have been formulated to be answered and also act as a guide in order to yield the best result possible for thus research study.

  1. What are the symptom of lassa fever?
  2. How does lassa fever kill?
  3. What are the negative impact of lassa fever on the reputation of life assurance companies?
  4. What are the ways individual can contact lassa fever?
  5. What are the challenges the underwriter face while underwriting lassa fever?

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

Following the above study objective and guiding questions, this research is hypothesized thus using theinsight on the effects of Lassa fever on Life assurance underwriting.

H0: Lassa fever has no significant impact on Life assurance underwriting results.

H1: Lassa fever has a significant impact on Life assurance underwriting results.

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This research is on the impact of Lassa fever on Life assurance underwriting. Therefore the study is focused on gaining a detailed insight on the effects of Lassa fever on Life assurance underwriting. This research project will be beneficial to all Insurance companies in Nigeria, the Lassa fever infected victims, Nigeria government. It will serve as a frame work for the Nigerian government, the Federal and state government. It is also a vital tool for students who are researching into similar topics. Mostespecially students of the insurance and risk management department of institutions of higher learning and also those of the Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic.

1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

Lassa fever disease is a disease which originates and gets contaminated within the household where rodents are found and very expensive to treat once contracted it also brings about early death of its sufferers. But majority of people are not aware of the risk involved and the development of the disease. Other disorders of Lassa Fever disease have no doubt posed problems to the medical science, individual concerned, government, the general public and underwriters.

1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

There is no research study without limitations, despite the explicit and brilliant work intents for this research work certain factors, however, limits the original aims intended. The researcher finds it difficult to source for adequate materials for the study. Inspite of all efforts made to actually ensure that this work meets not only the NBTE standard but also the standards of international projects of this nature existing. Besides the cost of embarking on this project work considering the voiume of work involved also gives it’s own constraint on the research work as the researcher was not financially buoyant enough to carry out all the investigations deemed necessary to be carried out.

Further more, the people interviewed also gives their own limitations as most information soughted for were mainly from the underwriters in Rivers state.

Finally, the availability of materials also gives it’s own hindrance as the subject matter have been a matter of public discussion without proper literature put on ground in books for academic purpose. It is worthy to mention that the major source of this work was from but a few text books

1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS

LASSA FEVER: An acute, often fatal viral disease regularly found in West Africa and characterized by higher fever, headache, ulcers of the mucousmembrane, and disturbances of the gastrointestinal tract (Named after the town of Lassa a village of the north east Nigeria)

IMPACT: The effect of an object on another.

LIFE ASSURANCE: It is a contract between the policy holder and the assurer, where the assurer agrees to pay a sum of money(benefit) upon the assurance of the assured death or other critical illness, in return of payment of a stipulated amount called premium at regular intervals or in lump sum by the assured.

UDERWRITING: This is the process of selecting risk for insurance, and classifying them according to their degrees of insurability, so that the appropriate rates may be assigned. Underwriting is the assessment of risk by the company to determine whether the risk can be accepted or not.

 

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