Ethical Concerns of Medical Tourism and its Societal Impact

Ethical Concerns of Medical Tourism and its Societal Impact
Ethical Concerns of Medical Tourism and its Societal Impact
April 29, 2016

Medical tourism is a behavior that has come to stay worldwide. This trend used to be common among the wealthy and affluent but today, middle and low income earners often source for funds to send their loved ones abroad for medical treatment. According to Nathan G. Cortez, an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences, Southern Methodist University, the issue of medical tourism transcends beyond just wellness to the dimension of international laws. There are even more complicated issues in contention as far as the topic is concerned.

Religious opinions and diversity

Different religions have different doctrines and there are still some that view organ transplants and any procedure that has to do with cosmetic surgery as sinful. To those, it is a display of lack of gratitude to the Supreme Being who is also known as the maker. Also, some religions with strict moral standards feel threatened by the invasion of alien cultures into theirs. This has led to a number of mass protests in the past.

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Effect of the trend on developing economies

Developing economies needs all the investment they can get to boost their economy. The increasing number of medical tourists flowing out of their countries lead to further depreciation of their health sector, leaving those who cannot make the trip at the mercy of progressively decaying infrastructure. It is up to the government of such countries to emulate the government of Thailand and Malaysia who invested heavily in the sector during the financial recession of the late nineties to turn both countries into a medical tourist destination.

Sources of organs used for transplant

Asia is one continent that has zero tolerance to drug peddling and corruption. Penalty for committing such crimes ranges from life sentences to instant death. Asia is also well known for the most organ transplants. There is growing concern to the source of these organs. A report by Gavin Kelleher shows that organs are involuntarily harvester from prisoners in China after which the victim is cremated to hide the evidence. This raises human right concerns which should be a major issue is such dealings.

Quality of health service received

Research has shown that there is disparity in quality of healthcare received by medical tourists. Other concerns are follow up cares because, to some people, complication begins after they have traveled back to their country which puts strain on the patient’s country’s health system. There is also the possibility of importing harmful organisms from the host to the native country.

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An avenue for people to go against the law

There are countries where abortion and organ sales are illegal. Patients in such countries would travel to countries where these procedures are legal to have them done. Also, patients would love to visit a country with a vibrant legal system where they can favorably contest the healthcare they received when they are dissatisfied with the procedure.

Patient’s view of their medical system

Distrust in local health systems is one of the factors that fuel medical tourism after cut in cost of treatment. There are times when a patient will feel they are not getting enough from the local doctors especially when the sickness persists over a long period of time. The urge to seek an alternative care elsewhere grows.

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Article highlights

  • Which class of people usually go for medical tourism.
  • What makes patients opt out for medical tourism.
  • How patients use medical tourism to bypass home laws
  • Judiciary has also an effective influence on medical tourism
  • Seeking medical treatment abroad must have some benefits.
  • Medical services in different countries vary significantly.
  • Medical tourism affects the growth of economy.
  • Religious opinions has obvious influence on medical tourism.
  • Reputation of medical tourism depends on quality of healthcare service.
  • How developing countries can tap into the gains of medical tourism.

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