A Cost-Benefit Analysis of an Overseas Volunteer Mission to the Local Healthcare System

Am Surg. 2022 Jul;88(7):1680-1688. doi: 10.1177/0003134821998683. Epub 2021 Feb 26.


Background: The aim of this study was to comparatively evaluate the sustainability and cost-benefit of the Operation Giving Back Bohol surgical volunteerism mission (SVM) carried out in Bohol Province, Philippines, over twelve consecutive missions.

Methods: This was a cost-benefit analysis of prospectively collected financial data from twelve consecutive surgical volunteerism missions held between 2006 and 2018. The overall cost of an SVM and cost per patient were the endpoints of interest. Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and costs thereof were calculated for each patient undergoing surgery in the twelve SVMs.

Results: A mean of 112 ± 22 patients were included per year of the SVM. A statistically significant increasing trend in the overall cost of SVMs over time was found (R2 = .469; P = .014). A nonsignificant decreasing trend in the cost per patient over time was found (R2 = .007; P = .795). A total of 8811.71 DALYs were averted in the twelve SVMs. DALYs averted per year ranged between 474.02 (2009) and 969.16 (2012). Cost per a DALY averted ranged between $466.9 (2006) and $865.6 (2009). Comparison of the latter with GDP per capita showed that this SVM was "very cost-effective."

Conclusion: The SVM contributes substantially to the health care system both clinically and financially. A total of 8812 DALYs were averted in these twelve SVMs. Costs per a DALY averted did not significantly change over the mission years. Increasing the number of patients served has increased the total cost of the mission with no impact on the cost per patient.

Keywords: Operation Giving Back; breast surgery; cost analysis; hernia; salpingo-oophorectomy; surgical volunteer mission; thyroidectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Humans
  • Volunteers*