Medical tourism is gradually increasing in popularity due to improved access to information and considerable increase in marketing of the sector in many nations. Hence, it becomes necessary to examine the effects this industry has socially, economically as well as politically. A number of papers and research presentations have been authored on the same.
This post discusses a few important impacts of medical tourism.
Cross border tourism is steadily becoming one of the major contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country in which it is an established industry. It is also responsible for generating employment opportunities.
Revenue generation due to medical tourism not only benefits the medical industry alone, but also other allied industries like:
Industries closely related to medicine, like pharmaceuticals and surgical equipment providers are bound to see an increase in business with a rise in medical travel.
On undergoing a medical procedure, one is bound to be prescribed certain over the counter drugs. In certain cases like orthopaedic surgery, the patient may be required to purchase or rent certain equipment necessary for recuperation, for example, a wheelchair or a neck brace etc. It is therefore easy to see why the profits these sectors make are directly proportional to the influx of medical tourists.
Most of the times, medical tourists prefer to stay back after undergoing a procedure in the destination country and aid their recuperation with a vacation giving them the much-needed privacy and relaxation. Another reason why medical travelers stay back and indulge in sightseeing in the destination country is to make the most out of the investment they have made. This bodes well with the travel and tourism industry and other allied industries like the hospitality sector which reap monetary benefits.
More than 12 million patients cross international borders for medical tourism and this creates a huge demand in the tourism and hospitality industry. Source: Marcus1234 via en.wikipedia.org
Medical tourism does more than just create employment and increase the GDP of a nation. Effect of medical tourism on the society is profound and significant as well. Increased demand for health services induces equivalent increase in the nation’s attention towards the same. It results in increased investments in the health and allied sectors. Thus an improvement in the infrastructure, public transport, health policy drafting, etc., is also seen.
Increased GDP and employment rates improve the standard of living and capacity of expenditure of the population. For developing nations, these social changes give impetus to the snowballing towards advancement and all round development of the country. On the other hand, developed nations gain popularity and improved credibility as a medical tourism destination.
The Indian medical tourism industry is expected to generate revenue over $7-8 billion dollars by 2020. Source: Manipal Hospital via en.wikipedia.org
Increase in cross border exchange of medical tourists between two or more nations results in fostering positive relations between their governing bodies. Dialogue and communication increases, cooperation between them rises thus paving the way to stronger political bonds. Cordial relations between nations advance exchange of ideas that benefits all participating parties. It leads to improved human rights regulations and safety of the travelers in the destination country.
Medical tourism paves the way towards beneficial political ties between nations, and thus, towards global development and progress.
It is therefore clear that medical tourism has a multifaceted impact on a nation’s society, economy and governance.