Wednesday, 27 August 2014

New article: 'Medical tourism in Malaysia: How can we better identify and manage its advantages and disadvantages?'

Ormond, M., Wong, K.M. and Chan, C.K. (2014) 'Medical tourism in Malaysia: How can we better identify and manage its advantages and disadvantages?' Global Health Action, 7(25201). 
Available HTTP: (free/open access)

Following on the identification of medical tourism as a growth sector by the Malaysian government in 1998, over the last 15 years significant governmental and private-sector investment has been channelled into its development. This is unfolding within the broader context of social services being devolved to for-profit enterprises and ‘market-capable’ segments of society becoming sites of intensive entrepreneurial investment by both the private sector and the state. Yet the opacity and paucity of available medical tourism statistics severely limits the extent to which medical tourism’s impacts can reliably assessed, forcing us both to consider the real effects that resulting speculation has itself produced and to re-evaluate how the real and potential impacts of medical tourism are -- and should be -- conceptualised, calculated, distributed and compensated for. Contemporary debate over the current and potential benefits and adverse effects of medical tourism for destination societies is hamstrung by the scant empirical data currently publicly available. Steps are proposed for overcoming these challenges in order to allow for improved identification, planning and development of resources appropriate to the needs, demands and interests of not only medical tourists and big business but also local populaces.

medical tourism industry; statistical data; destination countries; healthcare commodification; public–private health care investment; entrepreneurial state; Southeast Asia

This article is part of a special issue in Global Health Action on ASEAN integration and its healthcare implications. Full list of articles:
Progress toward universal health coverage in ASEAN
Hoang Van Minh, Nicola Suyin Pocock, Nathorn Chaiyakunapruk, Chhea Chhorvann, Ha Anh Duc, Piya Hanvoravongchai, Jeremy Lim, Don Eliseo Lucero-Prisno III, Nawi Ng, Natalie Phaholyothin, Alay Phonvisay, Kyaw Min Soe, Vanphanom Sychareun
Role of occupational health in managing non-communicable diseases in Brunei Darussalam
Pg Khalifah Pg Ismail, David SQ Koh
Human resources for health: task shifting to promote basic health service delivery among internally displaced people in ethnic health program service areas in eastern Burma/Myanmar
Sharon Low, Kyaw Thura Tun, Naw Pue Pue Mhote, Saw Nay Htoo, Cynthia Maung, Saw Win Kyaw, Saw Eh Kalu Shwe Oo, Nicola Suyin Pocock
Policy processes underpinning universal health insurance in Vietnam
Bui T. T. Ha, Scott Frizen, Le M. Thi, Doan T. T. Duong, Duong M. Duc
Innovations in non-communicable diseases management in ASEAN: a case series
Jeremy Lim, Melissa M.H. Chan, Fatimah Z. Alsagoff, Duc Ha
Disasters, resilience, and the ASEAN integration
Don Eliseo Lucero-Prisno III
Medical tourism in Malaysia: how can we better identify and manage its advantages and disadvantages?
Meghann Ormond, Wong Kee Mun, Chan Chee Khoon
The ASEAN economic community and medical qualification
Jathurong Kittrakulrat, Witthawin Jongjatuporn, Ravipol Jurjai, Nicha Jarupanich, Krit Pongpirul
Has decentralisation affected child immunisation status in Indonesia?
Asri Maharani, Gindo Tampubolon
Obesogenic television food advertising to children in Malaysia: sociocultural variations
See H. Ng, Bridget Kelly, Chee H. Se, Karuthan Chinna, Mohd Jamil Sameeha, Shanthi Krishnasamy, Ismail MN, Tilakavati Karupaiah
Horizontal inequity in public health care service utilization for non-communicable diseases in urban Vietnam
Vu Duy Kien, Hoang Van Minh, Kim Bao Giang, Lars Weinehall, Nawi Ng

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Final project report now available: "Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone: Mapping Cosmetic Surgery Tourism"

The final report for the ESRC-funded 'Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone Aesthetic Surgery Tourism' project, led by Prof Ruth Holliday (University of Leeds, UK), is now available online.  Check out: 

Executive Summary:
This multi-site, mixed methods project charted the experiences of British, Chinese and Australian patients travelling abroad for cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery tourism is a fast developing industry that incorporates novel forms of labour and organisational structures that cross national boundaries, as well as drawing together pre-existing medical and tourism infrastructure. 

While medical tourism has often been characterised as wealthy patients from the global south travelling to the global north for high quality medical treatment unavailable at home, cosmetic surgery patients often travel from global north to global south, but these patients are on modest incomes. Despite this they can sometimes access upmarket private hospitals beyond their reach back home, made possible by favourable currency rates, cheap flights and lower labour costs outside the richest countries in the world.UK and Australian patients travelled for surgeries that were popular back home – such as breast augmentation and uplift, ‘tummy tuck’,rhinoplasty and liposuction. Others travel regionally, for example within Europe, often also motivated by cost savings. 

There are important exceptions to this pattern: Chinese patients travelling to South Korea access more expensive but high quality cosmetic surgery unavailable back home. Here patients from abroad often seek particular types of surgery prevalent amongst South Koreans, for example eye or jawbone surgery, or high tech surgery, such as breast augmentation using the patient’s own fat and stem cells. Patients therefore travel from global north to global south, across regional borders, and many are also ex-patriates. UK patients in Spain were most usually already living in Southern Spain or Gibraltar. 

Monitoring the movements of cosmetic surgery tourists is important in predicting health tourism in the future. As public healthcare systems are increasingly squeezed, patients become consumers in search of cut price procedures, taking on the risks of the choices they make. This research aimed to broaden understandings of surgical tourist experiences, the organisations involved, and the implications for globalized healthcare organised around consumption and markets.