Bioethics and transnational medical travel: India,"medical tourism," and the globalisation of healthcare.

Vivien Runnels, Leigh Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Health-related travel, also referred to as "medical tourism" is historically well-known. Its emerging contemporary form suggests the development of a form of globalised for-profit healthcare. Medical tourism to India, the focus of a recent conference in Canada, provides an example of the globalisation of healthcare. By positioning itself as a low-cost, high-tech, fast-access and high-quality healthcare destination country, India offers healthcare to medical travellers who are frustrated with waiting lists and the limited availability of some procedures in Canada. Although patients have the right to travel and seek care at international medical facilities, there are a number of dimensions of medical tourism that are disturbing. The diversion of public investments in healthcare to the private sector, in order to serve medical travellers, perversely transfers public resources to international patients at a time when the Indian public healthcare system fails to provide primary healthcare to its own citizens. Further, little is known about patient safety and quality care in transnational medical travel. Countries that are departure points as well as destination countries need to carefully explore the ethical, social, cultural, and economic consequences of the growing phenomenon of for-profit international medical travel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-44
Number of pages3
JournalIndian journal of medical ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


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