You know you are in a good place as a globetrotter or one who works around the travel, tourism and hospitality industry when you keep on bumping into articles with quotes such as these;
“Worldwide, the tourism industry has experienced steady growth almost every year.”
“The travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries..”
“Other less well-known countries are quickly emerging in order to reap the economic benefits of the tourism industry...”
It just means that if you love travel, or you’re curious about the world and some of it’s more ‘exotic destinations’ and would like to go it full-time, you can tweak on demand and supply factors, and possibly create or find work tailored to the travel industry.
On the flip side, there have been a number of discussions focused on those who don’t have the desire to travel, or who just can’t travel. Some reasons I keep hearing as I talk and relate to others either face to face or on the blogosphere is that; “travel is expensive, the vacation times are too few and far in between, not everyone can just get up and go, too many family responsibilities,” or even, “I’m too sick to travel.”
Through years of travel blogging, I’ve tackled creative ways to travel cheap, or travel within one’s city and region if vacation times are insufficient enough for lengthy gambols; personally I’ve also opted to visit cheap destinations as opposed to destinations that will certainly break the bank if not on a sponsored trip. In this post however, I wade into medical tourism, or travel for treatment.
Let’s face it, while health care has transformed in leaps and bounds in the past few decades thanks to globalization and technological advances, not everyone can easily access adequate treatment. Cheaper health care options across borders has meant that an increasing number of people travel abroad for medical care or wellness; so you have Germans going to Poland or Croatia to do dental work, or Russians and Arabians heading to Germany for specialized treatment; Kenyans flying to India and Malaysia to receive treatment, or even Americans going to Mexico or Brazil for cosmetic surgery.
Medical tourism may be a dicey topic to approach though; one fraught with it’s own peculiar set of legal issues and ethics. Not every country a patient travels to in search of treatment will adhere to the same ethics as the patient’s resident country. As an example in China, investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann estimates that “the organs of 65,000 Falun Gong and ‘two to four thousand‘ Uyghurs, Tibetans or house Christians were ‘harvested’ between 2000-2008 alone.” He concludes that for each person traveling to China to receive an organ, the death of another person occurs.
Things may get political when as an example you have Israelis buying Palestinian kidneys on the illegal organ donor market, or patients traveling for medical services deemed illegal in their home countries but legal elsewhere; like terminally-ill Europeans traveling to Switzerland where assisted suicide is permitted.
As a result, there has been an ongoing debate on the most appropriate terminology to describe the movement of individuals overseas for treatment. A range of nomenclature used by health service professionals include; international medical travel, medical outsourcing, medical refugees, and even biotech pilgrims. Others object to the use of the term ‘medical tourism’ stating it suggests ‘leisurely-travel’ disregarding the fact that a sick person normally has to deal with discomfort, pain and ill-health before and during the course of treatment.
The Global Spa conference of 2011 defined medical tourism as “the ‘act of travelling to another country to seek specialized or economical medical care, well-being and recuperation.” This travel includes that which seeks to enhance personal health and well-being, including ‘authentic and location-based therapies.’
Ten of the world’s best hospitals for medical tourism in 2017 are;
1. Germany, Hamburg: Asklepios Klinik Barmbek.
2. Lebanon, Beirut: Clemenceau Medical Center.
3. India, Bagalore: Fortis Hospital Bannerghatta.
4. Singapore: Gleneagles Hospital.
5. Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Prince Court Medical Center.
6. Canada, Toronto: Shouldice Hospital.
7. Jordan, Amman: The Speciality Hospital.
8. Thailand, Bangkok: Samitivej Hospital.
9. Mexico, Monterrey: Christus Muguerza Super Speciality Hospital.
10. Turkey, Istanbul: Anadolu Medical Center.
Questions arise in drafting such a list. What qualifies the above hospitals?
The list announced at the world’s largest tourism trade fair, ITB Berlin, on March 6th by the Medical Travel Quality Alliance (MTQUA) reflects changes in the medical tourism industry. The team selected hospitals based on the quality of medical treatment and on several non-clinical factors including quality of care, communications, marketing, value for money, cultural and social sensitivity, privacy, safety and leadership support of medical tourism.
Do you agree with this list? Have you been to any of these hospitals? Or do you have suggestions for other hospitals you think should be on this list?
Great post, I remember reading an article some time ago about the dark side of this in India. That part is sad. The unfortunate thing is also that many doctors specialize in medical tourism and locals may suffer.
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Yes..it can be unethical in many instances when all the focus is on those who have wads of cash coming from abroad, as opposed to the poor locals in a country. When rich foreigners are given preferential treatment and locals are neglected, it’s plain wrong.
This is eye opening. I knew sick people were seeking treatment in other countries and I’m not completely naïve about medical apartheid but as of late, I’ve been inundated with the idea of (cosmetic) medical tourism, so much that it somehow escaped me that the aforementioned continues to be an issue. I feel terribly about that.
I don’t think you should feel terrible about trying to improve your features Keisha. I think for some people it is so important..they go either for skin lightening procedures, or dental straightening, or body parts enhancement or reduction. I guess what makes someone comfortable in their skin. And yeah, the medical apartheid is just a spill over of the class situation..when people have money they are attended to faster than those who don’t.