People move to other countries for medical treatment is not a new phenomenon but with advancement in technologies and mode of transportation, the movement is faster than before. This increase in movements of patients across the borders has led to many changes where most of them are good but with a few adverse cultural, social and economic effects as well. The flow of patients and medical professionals across the globe is increasing with an increase in medical technologies and national policies of countries regarding regulatory regimes and capital funding for such movements. This is directly affecting the consumption pattern of health care departments in both developing and developed economies with a major change in production patterns as well.
General Agreement on Trade in Service of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has encouraged the free movement of health professionals and patients to avail services across the border. For the WTO have agreements for free trade of health services under regional and bilateral trade agreements, like many other services sectors, health services are also now more tradable than before. The excessive number of individuals moving for medical treatment from across the border is those have fewer facilities in their own country or their related issue of treatment has cultural conflict in their society like gender change surgery.
Before exploring the cultural and economic issues or challenges raised because of the free flow of patients across the border for medical treatment, there is need to understand about the factors those are leading to this increase in free movement. Key reasons behind the free flow of patients and medical professionals are above described with a global perspective. Further, there are some issues of countries specifically the developing and under developing economies. Patients are moving to other countries because there are lacks of medical facilities in their own country like the lack of doctors because of that they have to wait and stay on the long list of patients. Additionally, lack of technological advancements in medical department and the movement of patients are directly dependent on their income level.
In light of above discussion these are the emerging challenges for culture and economies of both the guest and host countries of moving patients for medical treatment across the border;
- It decreases the development ratio in developing countries when people with high-income move towards developed counties for medical treatments instead of forcing their government for development in medical sector of economy
- It increases the social class difference in developing countries that also causes decrease in economic development and an increase in illegal activities
- Increase in movement of patients to developed economies for medical treatments causes lack of facilities for locals or sometimes an increase in prices of medical facilities that ultimately effects local patients
- Movement of patients of high income from developing countries to developed economies even in presence of medical facilities in their own country discourages private health service providers and medical professionals start moving to developed economies as well that can cause unemployment in medical sector of developed countries and lack of medical staff in developing countries.