30 April 2012

Is health-care tourism sustainable?

Is it sustainable?  Well, do the local citizens have access to health care.  Let us explore that a bit.

There are no reliable records of the numbers on non-medical health care professionals globally, so the data on the number of physicians per 1,000 citizens in each country from the World Health Organization (2011) will be used to identify and quantify health provisions.  Globally the median density of health care professionals is 1.15 physicians per 1,000.  

Cuba (6.4 doctors per 1,000) and Greece (6 doctors per 1,000) are found next in physician density. Cuba should come as no surprise since this country has had a long and strong history of health tourism (Goodrich 1993b; Van Wilkinson 2008).  Likewise Greece, long known for the medicinal properties of its mineral springs has the benefit of the climate and bioclimatic conditions (Didaskalou et al. 2004). Progressing down the physician density list are two other countries, Malaysia and India, both known for health tourism.  Malaysia is one of the primary destinations in southeast Asia that has had the benefit of a deliberate marketing strategy by both the private and public sectors (Leng 2007).  And we find that the density of health care professionals in Malaysia (0.94) is comparable to Grenada and Peru (0.98, and 0.92 respectively).  Further west, India’s ranking of 0.60 is similar to the availability of doctors in Iraq, Morocco and Honduras (0.69, 0.62, and 0.57 respectively).

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