‘Medical tourism’ frequently has been held to unsettle naturalised relationships between the state and its citizenry. Yet, in casting ‘medical tourism’ as either an outside ‘innovation’ or ‘invasion’, scholars have too often ignored the role that the neoliberal retrenchment of social welfare structures has played in shaping the domestic healthcare systems of the ‘developing’ countries increasingly recognised as international medical travel destinations. While there is little doubt that ‘medical tourism’ impacts destinations’ healthcare systems, it remains essential to contextualise them.
This paper offers a reading of the emergence of ‘medical tourism’ from within the context of on-going healthcare privatisation reform in one of today’s most prominent destinations: Malaysia. It argues that ‘medical tourism’ to Malaysia has been mobilised politically both to advance domestic healthcare reform and to cast off the country’s ‘under-developed’ image not only among foreign patient-consumers but also among its very own nationals, who are themselves increasingly envisioned by the Malaysian state as prospective healthcare consumers.
Hanefeld, J. (2014) 'Medical tourism isn't all faulty PIP implants and NHS fraud', The Conversation, 30 July. Available HTTP: http://theconversation.com/medical-tourism-isnt-all-faulty-breast-implants-and-nhs-fraud-29806