The Ministry of Health (Minsal) saves up to $32,747 in the cost of care for a person injured with a firearm as part of the reduction in acts of violence thanks to the security measures implemented by the government of President Nayib Bukele.
“All the care provided in the health system has a cost for Salvadorans, and to the extent that we have more security, the costs to the health system that can be invested definitely decrease. In health, this is key; the savings are not only monetary, but [that translates] into greater coverage and better treatments for the population in other diseases,” Alabi said.
The official highlighted that there is an 80% decrease in care for this type of injury in national care centers when compared to figures from years prior to 2019.
“Being able to care for a patient injured by a firearm in El Salvador could cost up to $32,000. We currently see a marked decrease where, practically, we went from an average of 1,000 injuries [annually and before 2019] by firearm to less than 100 injuries [currently]. How much does the health system save with that amount?” Alabi emphasized this during the interview with Noticiero El Salvador.
If the remaining 900 cases of firearm injuries on average, which are no longer reaching hospitals, are taken into account and multiplied by the estimated costs for each one ($32,747), the health system represents a saving of more than $29 million a year.
These costs of care for those injured by firearms are based on the PERC (Production, Efficiency, Resources and Costs) tool of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), according to Minister Alabi.
According to the PERC, the cost of transporting a gunshot wounded patient to the hospital is $170.28 per day; maximum urgent care is around $171.74; expenses in the operating room represent $1,345.09 per day, and with a frequency of four interventions, a total of $5,380.36 is reached, only in operations.
In addition, the continuity of the care process in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) has a value of $2,144.90 per day, with a frequency of nine days, totaling $19,304.10; to this are added the days of stay in the hospital, which amount to an individual cost of $504.86 and with a frequency of 15, making a total of $7,572.90 at the end of the period; while the follow-up control represents $36.98 a day, taking into account a frequency of four controls, it adds up to a total of $147.92.
“Obviously if the patient requires a prolonged hospital stay, the figure increases exponentially. We have approximately 100 fewer injuries than before; how much money has the health-care system saved in injuries? Just do the math of 900 for $32,000, and we are able to realize the magnitude of savings and security that we have in our country,” said Alabi.
On the other hand, the official explained that in terms of injuries from stabbing weapons, a reduction is also reported. These types of injuries, based on PERC, can cost the healthcare system $23,243 per person. Said amount includes the number of days that are necessary for the patient’s recovery.
«It is important to know the cost of care for a knife: ambulance care is $170.28; maximum urgency is $171.74; the operating room has a total cost of $2,690.18; the Intensive Care Unit is just over $15,000; the hospital stay is close to $5,000; and follow-up control is $174.92. Adding everything up, we have an amount of more than $23,000,” Alabi specified.
In this sense, the Doctor José Antonio Saldaña National General Hospital for Pneumology and Family Medicine, located in Los Planes de Renderos, south of San Salvador, is one of the hospitals that, in previous administrations, was overwhelmed by the victims of the violence by gangs, and that, with the solid security strategy of President Nayib Bukele, implemented since June 2019, has experienced a historic decrease in emergencies caused by these terrorist structures.