Essay about Medical Tourism in Southeast Asia

Essay about Medical Tourism in Southeast Asia

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Demand for healthcare has grown globally, associated with rises in income and education attainment among global populations. Changes in demography, such as aging populations in developed countries and shifts in disease burden from infectious to chronic diseases also stimulate the demand for more, high quality health services. The availability of these services in foreign nations at competitive costs combined with the lack of availability, long lines and high costs in their home countries has fuelled a new wave of healthcare consumers: medical tourists.

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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...anization, 89(5), 336–344. doi:10.2471/BLT.09.072249
PhD, D. C. K., PhD, M. L., MPA, T. J., MD, P. H., DrPH, P. F. M. L., MPH, N. L. H., et al. (2011). Health in Southeast Asia 5Human resources for health in southeast Asia: shortages,distributional challenges, and international trade inhealth services. Lancet, 377(9767), 769–781. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62035-1
Pocock, N. S., & Phua, K. H. (2011). Medical tourism and policy implications forhealth systems: a conceptual framework from acomparative study of Thailand, Singapore and. Globalization and Health, 7(1), 12. doi:10.1186/1744-8603-7-12
Sarwar, A. (2013). Medical Tourism in Malaysia: Prospect and Challenges. Iranian Journal of Public Health.
Turner, L. (2007). “First World Health Care at Third World Prices”: Globalization, Bioethics and Medical Tourism. BioSocieties, 2(3), 303–325. doi:10.1017/S1745855207005765

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