Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility
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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.
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Chapter 11: The implications of medical travel upon equity in lower-and middle-income countries

Andrea Whittaker


The concept of health equity involves the recognition that unfair and avoidable health differences between groups of people are linked with social, economic or environmental disadvantages. This chapter discusses evidence that many of the purported economic and health system benefits of the medical travel trade for LMICs are not being realized, rather growth of medical travel exacerbates already existing inequities within health systems. It proposes a framework for conceptualizing factors influencing the impact of medical travel upon local health system equity, including a range of local supply-side factors, local policy settings and foreign demand-side factors affecting health system resources, access and utilization. There is growing evidence of the profound effects of the trade upon the human resourcing and access for local populations in destination countries. There is an urgent need for better empirical evidence of the effects of trade on equity. The chapter concludes that policy coherence across all sectors is necessary to divert medical travel from causing foreseeable harms and that, to the extent possible, governments of sending countries need to develop policies which limit the demand for medical travel from their own citizens.

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