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BACKGROUND: District hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa are in need of investment if countries are going to progress towards universal health coverage, and meet the sustainable development goals and the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery time-bound targets for 2030. Previous studies have suggested that government hospitals are likely to be highly cost-effective and therefore worthy of investment. METHODS: A retrospective analysis of the inpatient logbooks for two government district hospitals in two sub-Saharan African hospitals was performed. Data were extracted and DALYs were calculated based on the diagnosis and procedures undertaken. Estimated costs were obtained based on the patient receiving ideal treatment for their condition rather than actual treatment received. RESULTS: Total cost per DALY averted was 26 (range 17-66) for Thyolo District Hospital in Malawi and 363 (range 187-881) for Bo District Hospital in Sierra Leone. CONCLUSION: This is the first published paper to support the hypothesis that government district hospitals are very cost-effective. The results are within the same range of the US$32.78-223 per DALY averted published for non-governmental hospitals.

Original publication




Journal article


World j surg

Publication Date





2187 - 2192


Cost-Benefit Analysis, Health Care Costs, Hospitals, District, Humans, Malawi, Quality of Health Care, Retrospective Studies, Sierra Leone