Table of Contents

Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility

Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility

Edited by Neil Lunt, Daniel Horsfall and Johanna Hanefeld

The growth of international travel for purposes of medical treatment has been accompanied by increased academic research and analysis. This Handbook explores the emergence of medical travel and patient mobility and the implications for patients and health systems. Bringing together leading scholars and analysts from across the globe, this unprecedented Handbook examines the regional and national experiences of medical tourism, including coverage of the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The chapters explore topics on issues of risk, law and ethics; and include treatment-focused discussions which highlight patient decision-making, patient experience and treatment outcomes for cosmetic, transplantation, dentil, fertility and bariatric treatment.

Chapter 32: The rise of medical tourism to South Africa

Jonathan Crush, Abel Chikanda, David Sanders and Belinda Maswikwa

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


South Africa is becoming an increasingly important global destination for medical tourists. Medical tourists fall into two main categories. First, there are conventional North-South medical tourists from Europe and North America who travel to access South Africa’s world-class private medical facilities. The country is marketed by medical tourism operators, facilitators and service providers as a cosmetic surgery destination with a related tourist experience (such as a game safari). It has also become a destination for fertility treatment and drug rehabilitation. More controversially, South Africa has also become a destination for (illegal) transplant and stem cell tourism. The second major category consists of South-South medical tourists from within Africa. In recent years, South Africa has become a destination for middle-class ‘medical tourists’ from other African countries. More important in numerical terms is the use of South Africa’s government-funded public healthcare facilities by medical tourists from neighbouring countries for a wide variety of health needs. This chapter provides an overview of these two major forms of medical tourism to South Africa.

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