World Medical Tourism

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  • Topic: International healthcare accreditation, Health care, Medicine
  • Pages : 10 (3364 words )
  • Download(s) : 11
  • Published : January 14, 2013
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Medical tourism (MT) is defined as patient movement from highly developed nations to less developed areas of the world for medical care by bypassing services offered in their own communities. Medical tourism is different from the traditional model of international medical travel where patients generally journey from less developed nations to major medical centers in highly developed countries for medical treatment that is unavailable in their own communities.[1][2] While the general definition of the MT above covers most of the aspects of the phenomenon, there is no international consensus yet on the name of the phenomenon. MT is often related to globalisation and neo-liberal healthcare policies which in this case considered to undermine the quality and quantity of the services available to middle class in home countries. Services typically sought by travelers include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries. Individuals with rare genetic disorders may travel to another country where treatment of these conditions is better understood. However, virtually every type of health care, including psychiatry, alternative treatments, convalescent care and even burial services are available. Over 50 countries have identified medical tourism as a national industry.[3] However, accreditation and other measures of quality vary widely across the globe, and some destinations may become hazardous or even dangerous for medical tourists.

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History
The first recorded instance of medical tourism dates back thousands of years to when Greek pilgrims traveled from all over the Mediterranean to the small territory in the Saronic Gulf called Epidauria.[citation needed] This territory was the sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios. Epidauria became the original travel destination for medical tourism. Spa towns and sanitariums may be considered an early form of medical tourism. In eighteenth century England, for example, patients visited spas because they were places with supposedly health-giving mineral waters, treating diseases from gout to liver disorders and bronchitis.[3] -------------------------------------------------

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[edit]Description
Factors that have led to the increasing popularity of medical travel include the high cost of health care, long wait times for certain procedures, the ease and affordability of international travel, and improvements in both technology and standards of care in many countries.[4] The avoidance of waiting times is the leading factor for medical tourism from the UK, whereas in the US, the main reason is cheaper prices abroad. In 2009, there were 60,000 patients going for treatment abroad in the UK.[5] Many surgery procedures performed in medical tourism destinations cost a fraction of the price they do in the First World. For example a liver transplant that costs $300,000 USD in America costs about $91,000 USD in Taiwan.[6] A large draw to medical travel is convenience and speed. Countries that operate public health-care systems are often so taxed that it can take considerable time to get non-urgent medical care. Using Canada as an example, an estimated 782,936 Canadians spent time on medical waiting lists in 2005, waiting an average of 9.4 weeks.[7] Canada has set waiting-time benchmarks, e. g. 26 weeks for a hip replacement and 16 weeks for cataract surgery, for non-urgent medical procedures.[8] Medical tourists come from a variety of locations including Europe, the Middle East, Japan, the United States, and Canada. Factors that drive demand for medical services abroad in First World countries include: large populations, comparatively high wealth, the high expense of health care or lack of health care options locally, and increasingly high expectations of their populations with respect to...
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