University of Melbourne PhD student Kristen Smith has been studying the benefits and costs of medical tourism in India. She has found that while India’s private health industry is benefiting from the profits it makes from performing procedures such as heart surgery or laser eye surgery, the rewards aren’t being passed onto the public sector.
Kristen is a third-year PhD student in Social Health at the University of Melbourne who recently carried out fieldwork in Mumbai on the effects of this industry on the local community. During her fieldwork in Mumbai, Kristen found that outside the potential economic benefits of medical tourism, there was very little discussion about the impact of this evolving industry on the city.
“There are three key arguments that tend to say medical tourism is great for health systems, and they hinge on the idea that attracting foreign exchange into the country will increase export earnings, lower fiscal deficits, raise the standard of healthcare through competition, and increase the national income which will in turn allow greater equity as the population would be better able to afford private healthcare,” she told the University of Melbourne newspaper, the Voice.
“Sadly all of these arguments seem to be little more than economic rationalisations that are sorely out of line with the reality of the current situation, specifically in terms of the way medical tourism is highly likely to drive up costs of healthcare for the citizens of India both directly and indirectly.”
Indians have access to municipal hospital, but according to Kristen, these are basic level health care facilities, and don’t compare to the private companies. So the growing trend is leaning toward private health care.
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