Medical Tourism and RBD

Can using “reverse brain drain” in medical tourism be a remedy to concerns about medical tourism. The concerns like medical tourism to cause a health disparities between rural health and metropolitan health and about to decrease the number of doctors who serves citizens and at last about to increase cost of treatments in homeland for citizens ? They say reverse brain drain may be a part of solution and I hope so… (MSY) 

Here is its LINK

Reverse Brain drain in Healthcare Sector

It is quite natural that educated professionals will tend to move to countries where they find a better career opportunity. Because of this migration, many developing country experience brain drain situation, where well educated and trained professionals move out of their home country in search of better opportunity and lucrative avenues, both financially and professionally. The country from where the trained professional moves out is said to experience brain drain, this in turn affects the economy of the country. But the country where the person has migrated to is said to experience Brain gain. Brain gain is considered as a profit to the country’s economy as the country did not spend its resources in training the professional. The phenomenon of brain drain is prevalent in all the countries, especially in the areas of health care sector and IT sector. This has put the country’s economy in major risk.

Competition prevails everywhere; the destination country also competes in getting the best professionals. Competition is not only for health care professionals but also for well trained and experienced nurses. Developing country is experiencing this brain drain from the early 70’s. When the developing country is not able to provide the expected remuneration, highly qualified professionals move out to countries where they are offered better pay scale, better working environment and better life style. Brain drain creates a shortage of health care professionals to the number of patients; as a result the native country is not able to provide better treatment to the local population. Developing countries like India, Thailand and China are affected largely, as their health care professionals move to countries like US and UK which offers them high scale and best life style. In Philippines, for every two doctors graduating, three leave to foreign shore creating the shortage of one doctor. In the past years, Malaysia has experienced major brain drain as 20% of it physicians are working as nurses overseas creating a dire shortage of specialists in public hospitals. To counter act this, government started promoting medical tourism which would positively increase the revenue of a country and prevent brain drain.

Detailed survey and analysis points that migration of health care professionals is largely towards the country where medical tourism is practiced extensively. The destination country also attracts the health professionals with high incentives for the name and expertise they bring along with them. In this situation, medical tourism came as a rescue to the host country as experts believe that promoting medical tourism may eventually mitigate the phenomenon of brain drain as the country’s medical facility, quality of service and annual revenue will increase with the incoming of foreign medical tourists. With medical tourism catering foreign tourists the standards and quality of the hospital also increases. Treating a foreign patient is more profitable since the revenue from foreign patients are more; now the health care centers are able to provide attractive salary packages to physicians than before. As more and more people from the developed countries start coming to the developing nations for medical care, the healthcare professionals may be attracted back to the native countries, thus reversing brain drain.

Medical tourism might have given solution to external brain drain, but it has in turn lead to internal brain drain, where health care professionals prefer working in private sector than in public hospitals. These private healthcare facilities that cater to the medical tourists, not only provide world class facilities to the patients but also a better working environment to the healthcare professionals with expected pay scale, therefore, professionals prefer working in private sector than in government run hospitals. As someone rightly said “For years we have been providing doctors to the Western World but now they are back home serving foreign patients”. This internal brain drain has lead to less number of doctors and nurses that is actually required for normal functioning of a hospital. In 2007, Thailand was hit by major brain drain due to high pay provided at Bumrungrad; this was the reason why Thailand was unable to provide one doctor per 1800 people in public sector. In India about 57% of doctors are working in metropolitan cities. It is feared that medical tourism may deepen this gap of doctor-patient in rural areas. The impact of internal brain drain was felt intensely by countries that were already in short of doctors and nurses. However, much effect was not noticed in countries with more number of health care professional as it had surplus resources. Internal brain-drain can be lessened by reforms in medical education policies.

Medical tourism is the only answer to external brain drain. Government of developing countries should take initiatives in promoting themselves as medical tourism destination and bring back their health care professionals. Government should take steps to modify their medical policies and encourage the growth of medical tourism to attract foreign tourists and facilitate easy access of medical facilities. Promising and profitable association must be made between the health care sectors and the tourism management to promote medical tourism and provide quality facilities to the medical tourists. However, promoting medical tourism may lead to internal brain drain, considering this the government should reform their medical policies and try to avoid this adverse effect. Medical education policies should be reviewed in order to ascertain uniformity in the distribution of healthcare professionals and services.


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