Economic benefit of hand surgical efforts in low- and middle-income countries: a cost-benefit analysis

Journal:

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Author(s):

James Chang
Gloria Sue

Date Published: 2021
Topic(s):
Outcomes and Impact
Hand
Economic impact and cost effectiveness
OPEN PUBLICATION

Background:

Hand surgeons can alleviate the burden associated with various congenital anomalies, burn sequelae, and trauma that debilitate individuals in low- and middle-income countries. Because few surgeons in these areas have the necessary resources to perform complex hand surgery, surgical trips provide essential surgical care. The authors aimed to determine the economic benefit of hand surgical trips to low- and middle-income countries to comprehensively determine the economic implications of hand surgery trips in low-resource settings.

Methods:

The authors collected data from two major global hand surgery organizations to analyze the economic benefit of hand surgery trips in low- and middle-income countries. The authors used both the human capital approach and the value of a statistical life-year approach to conduct this cost-benefit analysis. To demonstrate the economic gain, the authors subtracted the budgeted cost of each trip from the economic benefit.

Results:

The authors analyzed a total of 15 trips to low- and middle-income countries. The costs of the trips ranged from $3453 to $87,434 (average, $24,869). The total cost for all the surgical trips was $373,040. The authors calculated a net economic benefit of $3,576,845 using the human capital approach and $8,650,745 using the value of a statistical life-year approach.

Conclusions:

The authors found a substantial return on investment using both the human capital approach and the value of a statistical life-year approach. In addition, the authors found that trips emphasizing education had a net economic benefit. Cost-benefit analyses have substantial financial implications and will aid policy makers in developing cost-reduction strategies to promote surgery in low- and middle-income countries.