Friday, 27 January 2017

CFP: Deconstructing medical tourism: towards “therapeutic” circulations and itineraries? IMGS,2-7 July 2017, Angers, France

17th International Medical Geography Symposium (IMGS) -2-7 July 2017, Angers, France

Special session: Deconstructing medical tourism: towards “therapeutic” circulations and itineraries?

Organizers: Heidi Kaspar – Betty Rouland

Travels for reasons of health and well-being are not a new phenomenon. Over the two last decades, however, the number of people moving and/or circulating for medical reasons has been growing exponentially around the world. At the same time that the new mobility paradigm is challenging migration studies (Urry, 2005), so called medical tourists have become much more diversified in terms of medical needs and health travel conditions (regions of provenance and destination as well as social, human and financial resources). Consequently, the terms medical tourism or medical travel refer to a heterogeneous set of mobilities that, in their extremes, have little in common. Definitions of medical tourism vary. For instance, Connell (2016) considers medical tourism “a want rather than a need” (p 533) while “mobility for healthcare usually has little to do with tourism, and is primarily regional, centred on needs rather than wants” (p 534).

At the same time, studies on medical tourism show how “poor and medically disenfranchised” persons circulate between “Southern” countries (Rouland et al., 2016; Crush and Chikanda, 2015; Roberts & Scheper-Hughes 2011). Therefore, in this session we propose to deconstruct medical tourism/travel. This can be done for example:
  • ·         by contrasting and discussing different forms of health mobilities and identify commonalities and differences,
  • ·         by critically engaging with the concepts of tourism and travel (but not limited to them) and dissecting aspects of tourism/travel within health care and their effect on health care,
  • ·         by letting empirical data talk back to these concepts and
  • ·         by analyzing who proclaims medical tourism/travel through which practices and with which effects.

In view of those complex set of mobilities, heterogeneity of health conditions and medical purposes, we suggest therapeutic circulations or itineraries (Bochaton & Kaspar, 2016; Kangas, 2002) as alternative or additional concepts:
  • ·         Circulation and itinerary embrace the potential of repeated and non-linear movements, patients often travel to various destinations and/or travel repeatedly (e.g. to treat chronic diseases).
  • ·         Therapeutic denominates the purpose of the journey; the primary objective is to find a cure, access a treatment or diagnostic procedure, alleviate ailments – i.e. to improve health.

Therapies can be of any medicine (traditional Chinese, Ayurveda, biomedicine etc.), religious, a need or a want, approved or not, legal or not. The aim of this session is to sketch out new conceptual routes that allow for more adequate notions and understandings of the varied forms and types of therapeutic circulations. How can we conceptualize, define, approach, measure and categorize such therapeutic circulations and itineraries? In this session, we propose to discuss the following points (but not exclusively):
  • -          Scales and spaces produced by therapeutic circulations and their itineraries;
  • -          Data, status and categorization of patients;
  • -          Nature and roles played by the networks;
  • -          Multiplicity of actors and their roles;
  • -          Therapeutic “landscapes”;
  • -          Multidimensional Impacts ;
  • -          Bio-perspectives (-power/technologies/economies/etc.)
  • -          Ethical issues ;
  • -          Etc.


Patients, pharmaceuticals, knowledge and herbal medicine: various therapeutic circulations from a Southeast Asia perspective - Audrey Bochaton – Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre de la Défense
In this paper, we aim to revisit the conceptualization of medical travel which is generally defined through the sole lens of patients’ movements. The notion of therapeutic circulations allows to refer to a heterogeneous set of movements of individuals, objects, knowledge and to reverse the idea that flows of medical knowledge and treatments are predominantly unidirectional from the ‘developed’ to the ‘developing’ world. Examples of therapeutic circulations coming from or going to Southeast Asia will be presented to define this notion.

Discerning Harms from Benefits: A key challenge in advancing dialogue about the health equity impacts of medical tourism - Valorie A. Crooks, Leon Hoffman, Jeremy Snyder, Ronald Labonte – Simon Fraser University
There is extensive discussion in the international medical tourism literature about the potential or realized health equity impacts of medical tourism in destination countries. While much of this literature is speculative, data demonstrating such impacts is now starting to emerge. Though not exclusively, these impacts often span five domains: domestic government involvement; public health care; private health care; investment; and health human resources. Here we will report on the findings of a multi-year study investigating the health equity impacts of medical tourism in Barbados, Guatemala, and Mexico in these five domains. Drawing on 150 interviews conducted across these countries, we will provide examples of the health equity impacts identified, situating them in context. A key finding is that impacts that are viewed as harms or losses by some are viewed as gains or benefits by others. This difference depends on one's perspective. This is, in fact, an incredibly difficult situation in that in many ways stalls progress on instilling benefits and mitigating or eliminating harms. This situation further challenges our ability to understand who holds responsibility for acting on these impacts. From an intellectual perspective, this finding holds implications for many of the ongoing debates about medical tourism in the literature.

Back and Forth between Tourism and Health (ARTES) - Philippe Duhamel & Sébastien Fleuret – Université d’Angers
In this communication, we study the place of health in local development of touristic areas considering the direct and indirect effects of tourism on the regions, populations and health systems. Will the implantation of touristic infrastructures generate improvements (better performing health systems?) or will it produce inequalities (two-tier health system)?

Re-articulations of patient-subjectivities in transnational cancer care between Uzbekistan and India - Heidi Kaspar – Universität Zürich & Kalaidos University of Applied Sciences
This paper is about therapeutic itineraries of Uzbek cancer patients turning to India for diagnostics, surgeries and chemotherapies. Cancer is not the typical condition for conventional medical tourism: treatments are lengthy, outcomes are hard to predict and chances of failure (including death) are relatively high. Nevertheless, in North India, oncology is among the most frequented medical specialties for international patients. In Uzbekistan, India has become the top destination for cancer care. Patients who are sent home to die in Uzbekistan increasingly find their way to India, where topnotch technology and experienced doctors are ready to help those patients who are able to pay for the expensive treatments escaping her/his fate. In this paper I examine how a transnational health care industry cancer transforms patients into health care consumers – and where the limits of these re-articulations reside. In order to do so, I contrast the practices of for-profit medical tourism and the case of two doctors working in resistance to the commodification of health care.

Deconstructing medical travel facilitation: How medical travel facilitators engage in and engage with practices and ethics of care in order to facilitate therapeutic circulations - Sarah Hartmann - Open University (UK)
Navigating international patients smoothly and carefully through their medical travel journeys demands a considerable amount of work from medical travel facilitators. Analysing how medical travel facilitators engage in practices of care by attuning people and places, reports and relations, channels and circulations in complex transnational networks helps to deconstruct how they enhance, facilitate, control and interrupt therapeutic circulations. Looking at how medical travel facilitators respond to individual caring needs of so-called medical tourists can furthermore illustrate how they deal with, mediate and engage in (conflicting) practices and ethics of care that result from dislocating and emplacing them in different geographical and cultural settings.

Emerging transnational space of care between Libya and Tunisia: why geo-historical and geopolitical contexts matter - Betty Rouland, Sébastien Fleuret & Mounir Jarraya – Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Université d’Angers & Faculté des Lettres de Sfax

This paper focuses on analyzing the emergence of a transnational space of care between Libya and the Tunisian city of Sfax since the Arab revolutions in 2011. It seeks to understand the evolution of so-called “medical tourism” activity insisting on the role played by geographical and geopolitical factors. Facing a lack of data and an instable geopolitical situation, with a context of war in Libya, the methodology combines a qualitative survey amongst Libyan patients (n=205) in four private clinics in Sfax as well as semi-structured interviews conducted with multiple actors in the health sector. On the one hand, the findings show that the chaos in Libya as well as the geographic proximity to Sfax push the (para)medical staff to invest in the private health sector. On the other hand, the findings point to the growth and the diversification of patients’ profiles (networks, resources, needs of medical care, etc.). Spatial reconfigurations, such as new city planning (medical, residential, commercial) and regional circulations (patients, transports, assurances systems, etc.), are the expression of an emerging transnational space of care. The political context as well as the impoverishment of the patients leads us to reconsider the definition of “medical tourism” and to question the sustainability of the related investments in Sfax, given its dependence on Libyan patients.

Friday, 20 January 2017

New book: Stem Cell Tourism and the Political Economy of Hope (Petersen et al., 2017, Palgrave Macmillan UK)

Stem Cell Tourism and the Political Economy of Hope
Series Title
Health, Technology and Society
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Hardcover ISBN

This book provides a unique and innovative perspective on the controversial phenomenon of ‘stem cell tourism’. A growing number of patients are embarking on stem cell treatments that are clinically unproven and yet available in clinics and hospitals around the world. The authors offer a cutting-edge multi-dimensional perspective on this complex and rapidly changing phenomenon, including an analysis of the experiences of those who have undertaken or have contemplated undertaking a stem cell treatment, as well as examination of the views of those who undertake research or advise on or provide stem cell treatments. Developing the concept of ‘the political economy of hope’, and referencing case studies of the stem cell treatment market in China, Germany, and Australia, this book argues for a reframing of ‘stem cell tourism’ to understand why patients and families pursue these treatments and whether authorities’ concerns are justified and whether their responses are appropriate and proportionate to the alleged risks.

Monday, 19 December 2016

CFP: Migrations and health inequalities in Europe

RN 16 Sociology of Health and Illness
CALL FOR PAPERS (Un)Making Europe: Capitalism, Solidarities, Subjectivities
13th Conference of the European Sociological Association
29 August – 1 September 2017 Athens, Greece
Abstract deadline: 1 February 2017

Europe can be made or unmade, which is especially true after the economic and social crisis of 2008. European societies and the idea of Europe have been challenged: contradictions of capitalism, fragmented solidarities and subjectivities have resulted in protest by some citizens and apathy from others. How is this context affecting the health of European societies, their populace and their health policy systems? The Board of Research Network 16 Sociology of Health and Illness invites abstract submissions that will be considered for presentation at the next ESA conference in Athens (29 August – 1 September 2017). These proposals might focus on health issues and/or aspects of health system in relation to the themes of the conference:
‘Capitalism’, ‘Solidarities’ and ‘Subjectivities’. Capitalism might be investigated in relation to resources allocated to health care in terms of cost, market dynamics, the role of different actors in health policies, or the impact of health policies in terms of health inequalities. Solidarities within European boundaries and with the rest of the world form a key aspect of European societies. Therefore these solidarities might be investigated in relation to the health of migrants, older people, people with disabilities etc in a variety of contexts.

Subjectivities affect the relationship between health professionals and citizens as well as the cultural aspects of health issues. Moreover the subjective perception of individual health is affected by structural data, socioeconomic conditions as well as by biographical experiences. Submission of abstracts focusing on these themes is welcome. The board strongly encourages the submission of abstracts with a comparative European perspective, although national or local studies will also be considered.

Abstracts may be submitted in response to this RN 16 general call or to the RN 16 specific session or joint session proposals.

RN16_RN35: Migrations and health inequalities in Europe (Joint Session with RN35 Sociology of Migration)

Angela Genova (Department of Economics, Society, Politics, University of Urbino Carlo Bo) and Meghann Ormond (Cultural Geography Chair Group, Wageningen University and Research - Email: meghann.ormond [at]

Migration flows within member states as well as from non-European countries have shaped European societies over the last century. Nonetheless, in the last decade migration processes have challenged some of the main values of European societies: solidarity has declined in heterogeneous ways and new selective criteria have been introduced. Welfare systems have been affected by demographic changes as well by political debates defining new accessing criteria and therefore new boundaries between insiders and outsiders. The joint session will investigate the relationship between migration and health policy in European member states, encouraging a comparative approach. Moreover it will investigate the health inequality dimensions affecting migrant populations and the cultural dimensions of health issues related to migrants.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

CFP: ‘Whose heritages matter? Re-imagining “Dutch-ness” through migration in and beyond the Netherlands’

Call for participation:
‘Whose heritages matter? Re-imagining “Dutch-ness” through migration in and beyond the Netherlands’

‘The Value of Life: Measurement, Stakes, Implications’ International Conference
Wageningen, The Netherlands, 28-30 June 2017

Session 1: What might the Canon van Nederland look like from a migration heritage perspective?
Identities are dynamic, constructed and reconstructed across time and space. Yet, when they are questioned, tensions frequently rise. Consider, for example, when Argentine-born Maxima, now Queen of the Netherlands, suggested in a controversial 2007 speech that ‘The Netherlands is too complex to sum up in one cliché. A typical Dutch person doesn't exist’. Acknowledging the complexity of identity challenges right-wing political parties in the Netherlands and elsewhere throughout Europe to attempt to simplify the politics of identity into an essentialised ‘us/them’ binary, positing the ideals of a ‘majority’ population in opposition to ‘minority’ populations. They argue that the ‘dominant majority’ should have more say in establishing (national) identities than ‘minorities’, stoking anti-immigrant and anti-Islam sentiment. 

In light of the growth in popularity of anti-immigrant views, this conference session seeks to generate timely reflection and discussion about what heritages and whose heritages currently are – and could be – included in the many sites in which representations of (post-)national history and identity can be found. In 2015, the ‘Decolonising the Museum’ conference ( stimulated postcolonial reflection on the limits and possibilities in the 21st century of museums and archives with holdings representing Europe’s colonial legacy. In line with the 2017 Value of Life conference foci on what makes a life matter, social practices around valuing life, and the constitution of ‘population’ as an object of government, we use this conference session to extend such postcolonial reflection.

For this session, we invite participants to reflect on the ‘Canon van Nederland’ ( Those curating the Canon have sought to foster critical reflection on how people, especially schoolchildren, are ‘trained’ to understand and position themselves in relation to ‘Dutch’ heritage within and beyond the contemporary borders of the Netherlands. The Canon, accessible via an online archive and currently managed by the Openluchtmuseum, assumes a post-national perspective and intends to provide an opening for dialogue both within and outside of schools about the dynamic ways in which ‘Dutch-ness’ travels, emerges and manifests itself through time and space ( 

We ask scholars, heritage practitioners and community representatives concerned with identifying, protecting, collecting and communicating migrant heritage (e.g., experiences of economic migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, development workers, international students, soldiers, missionaries, etc.) to critically engage with the Canon. What might the Canon look like through the varied lenses of people with diverse migration experiences? Who is involved in assessing what heritages are worthwhile to remember, protect and share? 

Session 2: What might a ‘Canon van Wageningen’ look like from a migration heritage perspective?
Building on discussions in Session 1, we then turn to the ‘glocal’ level. In this session, we get scholars, heritage practitioners and community representatives concerned with identifying, protecting, collecting and communicating migrant heritage to reflect on what could be included in a ‘Canon van Wageningen’, as Wageningen (the site of the conference) has not yet been included in the Canon van Nederland regional site ( Wageningen – as a home to the Netherlands’ most internationally-diverse university, a base for far-reaching agricultural development and humanitarian aid interventions around the globe, and a significant site for the Second World War – provides opportunities to examine which and whose heritages have been and can be acknowledged and represented at a ‘glocal’ level.

Session organisers:
Karin Peters and Meghann Ormond, Cultural Geography, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands

Those interested in participating are requested to submit a 250-word abstract to Meghann Ormond ( and Karin Peters ( along with a short bio by no later than 13 January 2017.  

Monday, 12 December 2016

New article: Connecting with prospective medical tourists online

Moghavvemi, S., Ormond, M., Musa, G. et al. (2016) 'Connecting with prospective medical tourists online: A cross-sectional analysis of private hospital websites promoting medical tourism in India, Malaysia and Thailand', Tourism Management, 58, 154-163.

Free text available until 17 December 2016:

  • Websites of private hospitals promoting medical tourism in India, Malaysia and Thailand is examined.
  • The content and format of 51 hospitals across five dimensions analyzed.
  • Results provide pointers for hospital managers to improve their online presence.

Websites of private hospitals promoting medical tourism are important marketing channels for showcasing and promoting destinations' medical facilities and their array of staff expertise, services, treatments and equipment to domestic and foreign patient-consumers alike. This study examines the websites of private hospitals promoting medical tourism in three competing Asian countries (India, Malaysia and Thailand) in order to look at how these hospitals present themselves online and seek to appeal to the perceived needs of (prospective) medical tourists. The content and format of 51 hospitals are analyzed across five dimensions: hospital information and facilities, admission and medical services, interactive online services, external activities, and technical items. Results show differences between Indian, Malaysian and Thai hospital websites, pointing to the need for hospital managers to improve their hospitals’ online presence and interactivity.

  • Content analysis;
  • Hospital websites;
  • Medical tourism;
  • Patient;
  • On-line search;
  • Medical provider

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Global Healthcare Policy & Management Forum, Seoul, South Korea - 18-21 October 2016

Global Healthcare Policy & Management Forum
With the rapid growth of global healthcare market, many social, ethical, and legal issues around this trend have emerged. However, scholars and experts around the world have few chances to talk with each other and develop ideas and solutions for global health issues. The goal of this forum is to develop academic insight and theoretical frameworks related to medical travel. This forum intends to be a sustainable platform for knowledge sharing of scholars and experts in global healthcare field.   

Yonsei Institute of Health and Welfare

Organizing Committee
Ki Nam Jin (Yonsei University, South Korea)
Neil Lunt (University of York, UK)
Meghann Ormond (Wageningen University and Research, The Nethelands)

Global Healthcare Policy & Management Forum - Part I
18-19 October 2016, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea

18 October 2016, Tuesday
9:00 – 9:30
9:30 – 10:00
Opening Ceremony

Jin, Ki Nam, Professor of Health Administration, Yonsei University
10:00 – 12:20
Session1 | Policy & Governance Issues
Jin, Ki Nam Professor of Health Administration, Yonsei University
10:00 – 10:30
Resistance and the governance of international medical travel

Meghann Ormond, Cultural Geography, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
10:30 – 11:00
US healthcare in a global context: Roles and motivations of providers and the state

Andrew N. Garman, Dept of Health System Management, Rush University, US
11:00 – 11:20
Tea/Coffee Break
11:20 – 11:50
The Governance of medical travel in Japan

Mika Toyota, Dept of Culture and Tourism Studies, Rikkyo University, Japan
11:50 – 12:20
Cross-border patient mobility in the Greater China region: Emerging issues and health policy implications

Alex Jingwei He, Dept of Asian and Policy Studies, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong
12:20 – 13:40
Lunch (Hosted by Korea Tourism Organization)
13:40 – 16:00
Session2 | Asian Experiences & Issues
Valorie A. Crooks Dept of Geograghy, Simon Fraser Univ., Canada
13:40 – 14:10
Medical tourism in Korea: Current Status and Future Plans

Lee, In Sook, Deputy director of Medical Wellness Tourism Team, Korea Tourism Organization
14:10 – 14:40
Recent trend of Japanese government policy on medical tourism

Serina Okamura, Dept of Health Service Management, International University of Health and Welfare, Japan
14:40 – 15:00
Tea/Coffee Break
15:00 – 15:30
Beyond medical travel: The SingaporeMedicine experience

Jason CH Yap, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, Singapore
15:30 – 16:00
Staying relevant: The Malaysia healthcare travel story

Sherene Azli, CEO, Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, Malaysia
16:00 – 17:00
Wrap-up Session

Jin, Ki Nam, Professor of Health Administration, Yonsei University
Valorie A. Crooks, Dept of Geograghy, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Meghann Ormond, Cultural Geography, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
Tricia Johnson, Dept of Health System Management, Rush University, US

Global Healthcare Policy & Management Forum - Part II
21 October 2016, Medical Korea 2016, Coex, Seoul, South Korea
    Session 6. Global Healthcare Policy & Management Forum10:00~17:00, Chrysanthemum Room
    TimeSubjects & Speakers
    10:00-10:10Opening remark
    10:10-10:40Analysis of the competitiveness of Korea in global healthcare market 
    Ki-Nam Jin / Professor, Dept. of Health Administration of Yonsei University, Korea
    10:40-11:10Policy Issues related to the Globalisation of Healthcare 
    Ingrid Schneider / Professor, Political Science and BIOGUM of University of Hamburg, Germany
    11:30-12:10Development strategy and policy mobility in international medical travel 
    Meghann Ormond / Assistant Professor, Cultural Geography of Wageningen University and Research, Netherland
    12:30-13:25Break Time
    13:25-13:40Currency exchange rate forecasts for 2017 of the key countries with the most outbound medical tourists 
    Jungeun Park / Researcher, F/X and Derivatives Sales Department, KEB Hana Bank, Korea
    13:40-14:10The role of "online" in medical tourism 
    Keith Pollard / Managing Editor, Intuition Communication Ltd, UK
    14:10-14:40Medical versus Wellness? 
    - status and outlook of the wellness tourism at the example Germany 

    Lutz Lungwitz / President, German Medical Wellness Association, Germany
    14:40-15:10The business of medical tourism: Building a brand in a competitive world 
    Ilan Geva / President, Ilan GEVA & FRIENDS, USA
    15:10-15:30Coffee Break
    15:30-16:00How destination "Brand" drives choice in medical travel 
    Irving L. Stackpole / President, Stackpole & Associates, Inc., USA
    16:00-16:30Service excellence - the value of nonclinical services for International patients 
    Diala Atassi / Manager of Operations, International Programs Department of University of Chicago Medicine, USA