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Keywords:

  • Asia;
  • equity;
  • ethics;
  • medical tourism;
  • social justice

Abstract

Access to health care in developing countries, the main destinations of medical tourists, is notoriously uneven, and often becoming more so. Medical tourism, urban bias and privatisation have combined to exacerbate this trend. This is exemplified in both Thailand and India, where regional areas have been disadvantaged by the migration of health-care workers to hospitals focusing on medical tourism, neo-liberal national financial provision for medical tourism (and related tourism campaigns) and evidence of trickle-down gains is lacking. Medical tourism challenges rather than complements local health care providers, distorts national health care systems, and raises critical national economic, ethical and social questions.