Owing to the fact that there are many health problems that people of different races want to get solved at a comparatively low risk as well as low cost, there has been an increasing migration of diseased individuals from their home countries to other parts of the world.
This practice has been popularly termed “medical tourism,” otherwise known as health tourism or medical travel or global healthcare.
Health-Care Services Common to Medical Tourism
For one reason or the other, individuals travel across international borders to access health services that are available in their destination countries. Similarly, medical tourism could also be referred to as the practice whereby some physicians, doctors or health-care providers are itinerant travelers to different parts of the world to deliver health-care services to potential patients.
It is worthy of note that the health services that medical tourists commonly seek to have include dental surgery, joint (hip or knee) replacement surgeries, cosmetic surgeries, cardiac surgery, psychiatry, alternative treatments, in-vitro fertilization and freezing embryos for retro-production, and surrogate pregnancy.
Countries Associated with Medical Tourism
It is worth stating again that one of the major causes of medical tourism is the relative cost of undergoing a certain medical procedure. For instance, carrying out a liver transplant surgery costs about $250,000 in United States compared to that of Taiwan which costs about $90,000 USD. Another major reason is the lack of adequate health care facilities and services.
As a result, more of medical tourists come from places like Europe, the US, Canada, Japan and the Middle East. Health service providers from such countries stand the chances of losing billions of dollars revenue.
In the same vein, the countries where medical tourists usually consider for medical procedures include India, Jordan, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, South Korea, Tunisia, Argentina, Israel, Ukraine, and New Zealand.
Potential Risk of Medical Tourism
It is quite vital for medical tourists to be well aware of the risks involved in seeking health care in some other countries. This will help to determine what could be done so as to minimize or eliminate the risk factors of medical tourism.
1. Low level of expertise of some health-care service providers. There have been cases where some even practice outside of their field. This is highly risky.
2. Low health-care standards. Some countries other than First World have low standards in the health sector.
3. Lack of proper Health Insurance Scheme in some Medical Procedures.
4. The possible risk of post-operation complications after tourists’ return to home countries.
5. Lack of physical contact with the physician after medical care for essential medical check-up.
Factors Responsible for Medical tourism
1. High cost of health-care service. In fact, one of the major reason why medical tourist travel from First World countries to other places is as result of the high cost of health-care services.
2. Convenience and speed. In countries like US and UK unlike in some other countries, many health care services require long waiting times before the medical procedures are embarked on.
3. There is advanced medical technology in many countries today. Many countries are taking advantage of medical tourism by providing high standards of health care services.
4. Lack of local health-care services on certain medical problems. For instance, a medical tourist may seek help for in-vitro reproduction in a foreign country if it is not available in his own country.
From the foregoing, the views held by individuals about medical tourism are not the same at all. Some people from First World countries see it as a risky medical alternative. However, since many countries are now taking to advanced medical technology, some still consider that it is worth doing.