Limited access and resources in low- and middle-income countries leave many individuals deprived of medical care. Surgical mission trips offer a solution to provide sound surgical care to underserved areas but require a sizable financial support. Previous analyses of such trips have not included values of donated supplies and costs borne by the host country. We hypothesized that the orthopedic mission trips, utilizing the World Pediatric Project (WPP) model, can be executed in a cost-effective manner according to the World Health Organization thresholds even when considering cost to the organizations and host country.
World Pediatric Project records for the most recent pediatric upper extremity orthopedic mission trips of 2016, 2018, and 2019 were obtained. Cost estimates were based on documentation from each of the mission trips. Total costs included the costs borne by the WPP, estimates of the value of donated supplies, and costs borne by the host country. The cost-effectiveness of the surgical mission trips was determined by the total cost and potential benefit of performing the orthopedic surgeries using disability-adjusted life years averted.
Three separate mission trips to St. Vincent and the Grenadines were analyzed. Forty-five pediatric patients had received surgical care. The cost was calculated to be $431.50 per disability-adjusted life years averted when only the WPP costs are considered; including donated supplies and cost borne by the host country in the total cost, the cost was $6898.10 per disability-adjusted life years averted. After comparing the cost values to the per capita gross domestic product of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, $7,463.54, the WPP mission trips were determined to be cost-effective according to the WHO-CHOICE thresholds in all 5 categories.
Orthopedic medical mission trips can provide cost-effective surgical treatments for the upper extremity even when the costs to the organization and host country and trip donations are considered.
Type of study/level of evidence
Economic/Decision Analysis III.
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Published online: December 18, 2021
Accepted: October 6, 2021
Received: December 3, 2020
No benefits in any form have been received or will be received related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.
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