Tuesday July 12 2005 16:09:10 PM BDT
In this age of rapid globalization, medical tourism is an emerging concept that refers to the
increasing efflux of people from their native country where medical services are either very
expensive or unavailable. For Bangladesh, this centrifugality almost uniformly connotes to a
search for better care while for countries like the US and UK, it is more of a search for affordable
We would like to see Bangladesh shape its health policies in a way sothat it can position itself to
be competitive in this emergent market -
a. to reduce the centrifuglity of care for natives of Bangladesh.
b. to compete with countries like Thailand, India, Malaysia, Jordan, Singapore etc for the pool
international medical tourists.
Medical tourism, in its traditional molt, used to be limited to the rich and famous of the third
world countries. They used to travel to the developed world for better care and also for care
unavailable in their own country. But globalization has, as Tom Friedman argued, largely
flattened world. Even the least developed countries from third world now can compete in certain
service sectors including the health sector. No wonder, even the venerable Massachusetts
General is partially outsourcing its radiology services!
Health care, in the OECD (Organization of Developing Countries), is considered to be a $3-
trillion industry- and increasing to $4 trillion in 2005. Health care often is high priced in certain
countries (like the United States) while in certain other countries there is a delay in delivery
because capacity-saturation (like the United Kingdom and Canada). Many countries, including
less developed third world countries, have capitalized on this opportunity by providing high-end
decent medical care and luring paying patients from richer countries. Greece, South Africa,
Jordan, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are actively promoting promoting
medical tourism with enormous success.
Despite its rather recent entrance, according to a study by Mckinsey and the Confederation of
Indian Industry (CII), medical tourism in India could become $ 1-billion business by 2012. The
Indian government predicts that that India’s $17-billion-a-year health-care industry, boosted by