This is a form of tourism that involves people travelling out of their own country to seek better medical care. In the past days, people from the third world countries would travel to the developed nations to seek treatment that was unavailable in their own countries. Mostly they would go seeking surgery, and other complex and complicated health care that was unavailable in their own countries. Nowadays, even people from the developed countries are increasingly practicing medical tourism. Now even about 750,000 US residents travel abroad for care each year. It is also called health tourism, global or medical travel. This is a term mostly used by travel agencies and most of the mass media though it has rapidly grown to be known by a lot of people. It can also be used to refer to the practice of the health practitioners moving out of their own country to provide healthcare to another country.
Reasons for medical tourism
- Cost of a health care procedure. Some of the procedures costs are so expensive at home and mostly abroad the cost of such procedure is almost half price.
- Lack of certain types of medical care. Some countries, mostly the war-AA torn countries and the less developed ones are lacking some medical treatments.
- Inefficiency in the health care in home countries. Some of the countries have poor equipment’s or untrained medical doctors in certain fields of medicine.
- Convenient travel options. With the increasing and growing medical travel agencies, travelling has become easy with more connections and arrangements done by the agencies.
- Short wait times. Some of the procedures at home involve taking long waits due to the long queue of people waiting for the same procedure. Canada has this case where in 2012, between the referral and surgery procedure the average time for waiting was 18 weeks.
Services sought by medical tourists
- Complex procedures such as joint replacement (hip/knee), dental surgery, cardiac surgery, and most of the organs surgeries.
- Elective procedures such as cosmetic surgeries.
- Convalescent cares
- Alternative treatments.
- Burial services are also available.
Process of medical tourism
A contact is made with the person travelling abroad for medical treatment to a medical tourism agency. The agencies usually require a medical report which include medical history and diagnosis and the nature of the ailment. Consultants and certified medical practitioners then advice on the method of treatment. Discussions are also made on the total approximate expenditure, tourist destinations, choice of hospitals and duration of stays. A recommendation letter is also given to for a medical visa, to be acquired from the concerned embassy. When the patient travels the travel agency takes care of the patient until treatment or procedure is complete.
Countries that offer medical tourism
- Costa rica. It has three hospitals accredited with Joint Commission International (JCI).
- Brazil. Dozens of hospitals have been accredited with (JCI).
- Israel. A popular destination for medical tourism.
- South Africa. First African country to offer medical tourism. Offers medical and dental care.
- United States. Has several major medical centers that offer international patient centers.
- Others include India, New Zealand, Singapore and many others.
The world is becoming more connected and travelling is getting more affordable and easier. Therefore medical tourism is taking its root in most of the countries.