Medical tourism is defined as patients traveling abroad to seek health care outside of their healthcare jurisdiction. The medical treatments are sometimes combined with recreational activities, hence the term ‘medical tourism’. In Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Thailand, medical tourism has emerged as an industry and has become a key economic strategy in these two countries. Malaysia and Thailand have also become main medical hubs in the region, attracting patients from within and outside Southeast Asia.
The Birth of Medical Tourism
Before the east Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998 was a time of economic growth in Southeast Asia. The middle class with high education attainment was expanding, living mainly in large cities. These people put significant pressure on governments and healthcare providers for higher quality medical care in response to frustration with perceived lower quality and responsiveness of public providers. The demand resulted in the formation of private health sectors in many Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia and Thailand. However, these private hospitals suffered after the financial crash, due to the devaluation of the Malaysia...
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